Photography: Vaibhav Dhanawade
The Nissan Magnite has been a popular compact SUV primarily for its pricing and features which lead to it being a fantastic VFM proposition. However, the Magnite lacked one key variant which has slowly been gaining popularity. Customers have been warming up to entry-level-automatic variants for the convenience they offer in the city. That changes with the new EZ-shift variant which marries the base NA petrol motor with a new AMT gearbox. Being a relatively simpler gearbox, the AMT should enhance the Magnite automatic variant’s VFM quotient but how is it to drive?
Despite being a new variant, there is nothing to differentiate between the new EZ-Shift variant and other Magnite variants. It does bring in a new blue and black dual-tone colour option but that is not exclusive and will be available on other variants too. It will even be available in the new Kuro limited edition variant. We don’t mind it though as the Magnite has always been a sharp dresser.
The interiors remain unchanged too and it continues to impress in the features department with the top variants offering a 360-degree camera, wireless charging and wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Previously, if you wanted an automatic transmission equipped Magnite, you had to opt for the more expensive turbo-petrol powertrain which came with a CVT. The new EZ-Shift variant offers a 5-speed AMT gearbox with the more affordable 999cc naturally aspirated motor. Like the manual variant, this three-cylinder motor offers the same 72PS and 96Nm.
As far as AMT powertrains go, this one impresses with its smooth shifts. There is a caveat, however. The gearbox takes a tad too long to upshift or downshift. While that is a trait typical of AMTs, it does take the joy away from enthusiastic driving. Thankfully the gearbox gets a manual mode.
Also, compared to its turbocharged sibling, the naturally-aspirated motor offers its performance higher up in the rev range so the AMT does have to hold on to gears longer. However, this AMT gearbox delivers where it is supposed to. In city traffic, where most of us spend 90 percent of our driving time. Here, there is no denying the convenience offered by an automatic gearbox.
Nissan has always priced the Magnite variants competitively and while prices for the AMT variants are not out yet, we expect the Japanese carmaker to not break tradition here and price the AMT variants well.
With the new AMT gearbox, Nissan fills one crucial gap in the Magnite’s portfolio, that of an affordable automatic variant. The Magnite has always been a good value-for-money proposition with its combination of space, features and efficient powertrains. The new EZ-Shift variant enhances its value-for-money quotient and makes the Magnite a compelling alternative for those looking for an automatic budget SUV.