A flurry of new budget crossovers has been launched in the past 12 months, adding more intrigue to the perennial sales charts. It’s no coincidence that the four brands represented in this group test chose India to build their city runabouts. The Indian Government gives tax breaks to car manufacturers that adhere to the four-metre restriction when measured from nose to tail and thus we’ve seen a slew of compact crossovers built on the subcontinent. We put the latest contenders from Nissan and Kia up against some more established players in the market from Ford and Suzuki.
NISSAN MAGNITE 1,0 TURBO ACENTA AT
Fresh off the boat from India, the Nissan Magnite is the newest of the four cars featured here. Wearing its flagship Acenta Plus uniform, the carmaker's baby crossover is hoping to shake up the rapidly expanding budget-SUV segment. It stands alone as the only turbocharged contender with power derived from a 1,0-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder, mated to a continuously variable transmission. From a design point of view, the Magnite's striking design draws attention with its narrow hockey-stick-like LED daytime running lights and headlamps. Add its two-tone Vivid Blue body and Storm White roof to the mix, and the Magnite is clearly the “looker” among the group. It stands a lofty 205 mm off the ground, which provides a decent faux-SUV stance and it wears sleek-looking 16-inch wheels. From behind the steering wheel, it's evident the Magnite shares switchgear - like the climate control and starter button - with its Renault cousin, the Kiger, as part of its alliance with the French brand. Ultimately, the interior does not feel as well put together as the competition and some of the plastics are sub-par. Initially, the Magnite was meant to wear the Datsun badge; however, the company opted to reduce the number of models Datsun produced and took it under its wing.
Having mentioned the quality of the plastics, the Magnite is the best-equipped car of the four and standard spec is generous. Nissan has crammed its flagship with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The system has six speakers as well as a carefully positioned microphone and speaker to improve the quality of phone calls via Bluetooth. Another fancy feature not seen in this segment is a wireless smartphone charging pad. Despite the small dimensions, 3 994 mm in length and 1 758 mm wide, the Magnite is fitted with four cameras that display footage on the monitor to provide a bird'seye view of the car's surroundings. The camera's front and rear views can be combined simultaneously to make it possible to check the vehicle's 360-degree surroundings while parking. It is great to find this type of technology on small SUVs; although, we cannot help but think it's unnecessary considering the Magnite isn't a hulking vehicle, difficult to manoeuvre in tight spaces. This type of technology is usually seen in big, pricey cars. Sitting front and centre ahead of the driver, and standard across the range is a seven-inch TFT digital cluster that houses the rev counter and speedometer. One tester likened the graphic to the shape of the Cape Town Stadium, which is a fun interpretation. The display provides other configurations, too, depending on driver preference.
From behind the wheel, the Magnite's lean 1 075 kg kerb weight means the three-pot motor feels adequately powerful, despite boasting the least power. Thanks to its turbocharged nature, peak torque (152 N.m) and power (74 kW) is delivered fairly effortlessly at 2 200 r/min and 5 000 r/min respectively. On our test strip, it hurried to 60 km/h from standstill in 5,76 seconds and 80 km/h in 8,99 seconds. However, beyond the peak, it runs out of puff soon after and was ultimately the slowest car to reach 100 km/h with a time of 13,11 seconds. The Magnite did impress us in the 10-stop emergency braking test, though, with an average time of 3,13 seconds from 100 km/h to zero, at an average distance of 40,2 m.
We felt the turbocharged engine's responsiveness and lowdown torque come to the fore in city-driving conditions, where short bursts are needed. Say what you will about CVTs, but the transmission does a good job of transitioning through its speed ranges and has a secondary low mode for when extra pulling power is required if fully laden.
On the handling front, the Magnite suffers from plenty of body roll owing to its high stance; it's not the most composed handling machine and lacks the sharpness of its rivals. The Magnite offers a comfortable ride and although there is some cabin noise caused by the CVT, it's not intrusive enough to spoil the driving experience.
As far as a value for money goes, Nissan's budget-centric new entry puts a strong case forward with its generous specification and punchy turbo engine. One blight in the final reckoning might prove to be the fitment of only two airbags across the range.
The Kia Sonet has been a familiar face in the CAR garage over the last six months. Under the auspices of journalist Sean Parker as a long-termer, Kia's smallest SUV is the least expensive in this group test, at R295 995, and shares the same platform as the Hyundai Venue. The compact SUV was first shown off in concept form at the 2022 Dehli Motor Show and is aimed at young buyers in this burgeoning segment. From the front, the Sonet features Kia's signature Tiger Nose grille with a bold bezel at the bottom and a heavily sculpted bonnet. Our two-tone model wears a Ruby hue with a black roof that presents a classy, understated look.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Hyundai's seven-seater Creta makes a grand entrance into a niche segment
Middle child syndrome
BMW's entry-level coupé has landed on our shores; how does it compete in the absence of the M2 as the star-in-waiting?
What if the best seat in the latest Opel Zafira Life offering wasn't the one occupied by the driver?
DRIVE to SURVIVE
So you want to go GT3 racing? Dreaming is cheaper
Lotus' first hyper-SUV comes to life
Toyota's popular midsize SUV in hybrid form offers more grip and less sip
NYC ON WHEELS
For decades, Checker Taxis defined New York streets. One enthusiast has coveted one since the age of 11 and fulfilled that dream
REDUCING VEHICLE MANUFACTURING COSTS
We explain and investigate the key factors influencing vehicle cost
Hyundai adds head-turning design to its triedand-tested family SUV while adding more standard tech, luxury and interior practicality
At a competitive price, this highly anticipated A-segment hatch looks to take the offensive
THE WORLD'S GREATEST AUTO DISRUPTORS 2022
The visionaries and innovators leading the industry into the digital future
POWERTRAIN OF THE YEAR - Hyundai Motor Group
HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP went into development of its new generation of electric vehicles aiming to improve efficiency and range.
DESIGNER OF THE YEAR - Alfonso Albaisa, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL DESIGN, NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.
WHEN IT COMES TO AUTOMOTIVE design, the passion is in the process for Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design.
JAPAN'S NISSAN PLANS ‘GAME CHANGING' ELECTRIC CAR BATTERIES
Nissan is working with NASA on a new type of battery for electric vehicles that promises to charge quicker and be lighter yet safe, the Japanese automaker said.
THE PICKUPS HAVE COME TO PARTY! - 2022 FOUR WHEELER PICKUP TRUCK OF THE YEAR
MEET THE CONTENDERS FORD F-150 RAPTOR • FORD F-150 TREMOR FORD RANGER TREMOR • NISSAN FRONTIER PRO-4X TOYOTA TACOMA TRD PRO • TOYOTA TUNDRA TRD PRO
Electric Vehicles Are Taking Charge
In 2022 a range of manufacturers are introducing EVs for mainstream consumers.
Naa Na Na Na–vara!
Just like The Beatles advised Jude to do, Nissan South Africa have taken a slightly sad song and made it much better. We’re talking about the new and improved Nissan Navara, which is now built-in the Rosslyn plant near Pretoria.
2022 Kia EV6
This EV changes everything at least for Kia.
SPEAKS ON HIS TIME IN A JAPANESE PRISON AND LIFE AS A WANTED FUGITIVE
THE INVITED READERS OF ULTIMATE ADVENTURE 2021
THE READERS, YOU, ARE WHY WE DO THIS