Nissan Magnite Vs Kia Sonet: Battle Of The Sub-Compact SUVs

front view sonet vs magnite
Images: Fossbytes/Somnath Chatterjee

2020 was a year which can be termed as unforgettable for all of us but as a new car-buyer actually that year saw the entry of a lot of capable cars. One segment that has seen an increase is the sub-compact SUV space. The Nissan Magnite and the Kia Sonet are the newest sub-compact SUVs in the market.

Both of these SUVs have a lot of technology on offer in terms of features or engines. Hence, we compared the top-end automatic petrol trims of both to choose a winner for you. However, before we begin, here’s a quick overview of the segment they lie in.

What’s A Sub-Compact SUV?

The segment comprises of SUVs below the 4m mark and they pose as a more desirable alternative to the likes of a hatchback or sedan. In many ways, a sub-compact SUV makes sense considering the small size, ground clearance, and features.

Also Read: What’s The Difference Between A Full-Size SUV And A Compact SUV?

Nissan Magnite Vs Kia Sonet: Top Variant Petrol

kia sonet vs nissan magnite (2)

The top variant of Nissan Magnite comes with Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). On the other hand, the top model of Kia Sonet is offered with Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT).

Which Is The Better Looking SUV?

Side by side, you would think the Sonet is much bigger and it is, but not by much. Both are very good-looking with plenty of styling details while the Sonet is bigger, wider, and taller.

front grilles

That said, Nissan Magnite impresses with its large grille and slim headlamps plus the usual cladding and kink at the rear with its smart tail-lamps is also impressive.

The Sonet looks slightly more premium with the grille having a unique pattern to the blackened C-pillar along with the smoked tail-lamps (with being connected too). Both have 16-inch wheels as well. It really boils down to what you like yourself as both can be termed as attractive designs.

What About The Interiors?

The Magnite again is impressive when you open the doors and get in. The entry and exit is easier as the doors open wide. The cabin is an all-black affair but is sporty along with being well designed.

The finish of the 8-inch touch screen to the air vents plus the entire cabin is a nice mix of youthful charm and decent quality. It does not feel built to a price. We even like the instrument cluster with its different screens along with a Manga comic style lay-out which is Japanese and something different.

Kia Sonet

The Sonet, on the other hand, again feels a bit more premium with a slight edge in terms of quality. It looks and feels a bit more expensive with a larger 10.25-inch touch screen to the knurled switches. The quality is all there. It also has a funky digital instrument cluster with unique shaped air-con vents. 

Which Is More Spacious? Magnite Or Sonet?

Both have the same wheelbase but the Magnite feels more spacious between the two.

sonet steering

The Sonet front seats are big and comfortable with enough headroom plus adjustability. The rear seats of Sonet are a bit short on headroom or legroom plus it does not feel wide enough for three.

The Magnite rear seats offer more space plus the width for three passengers along with more headroom.

What About Features?

Expect all the usual comfort features like a touch screen, rear ac vents, climate control, steering controls, projector headlamps with LEDs DRLs, alloys, electrically adjustable mirrors and more.

The difference appears when you start using the features and when you take a closer look. The Sonet touch screen looks and feels more premium and has a better touch response that said the Magnite is not far behind.


The Sonet also has a sunroof which the Magnite does not along with the Kia-connected tech. The Magnite gets an additional USP like wireless Android Auto/Apple Car Play and a 360-degree camera. The Sonet has wireless charging, air purifier, Bose audio system, and more.

Sonet sunroof

The Magnite gets wireless charging, air purifier, and puddle lamps as well as JBL speakers as an optional tech pack.

What About The Driving?

Both offer petrol engines in various tunes including turbocharged options.

The Magnite top-end gets CVT petrol with its 1.0 turbo unit, which makes 100 bhp and 160Nm. The Sonet in its turbo petrol guise makes 120 bhp and 172Nm but unlike the Magnite it gets a 7-speed dual-clutch auto in the top-end.

As a city SUV both shine. The Magnite, as well as the Sonet, are easy to use in cities with light steering and smooth automatic gearboxes. We would say that the CVT of the Magnite is a bit smoother over the DCT of the Sonet.

magnite steering

However, when the speeds increase, the DCT of the Sonet and the extra horses make it quicker and offer a better driving experience. The Magnite by any means is not bad and for a CVT it is probably one of the best around (for its gearbox type). The Magnite however loses out in terms of refinement and NVH where the Sonet feels quieter.

Ride on both cars is slightly firm but the Sonet rounds off the bumps a bit better with more body control too but the Magnite again is not far behind. In terms of efficiency, Sonet is a bit more efficient at 11kmpl while Magnite CVT delivers 10kmpl in the city.

Which One To Buy Between Nissan Magnite And Kia Sonet?

Ignore the starting price and let’s look at what prices these two cars ask.

The Magnite seen here is Rs 10 lakh while the Sonet top-end petrol is Rs 13 lakh (ex-showroom). That’s a huge difference, but Sonet does give you reasons as to why it asks for more. It has better quality and more features along with being more premium overall.

Hence, if you can stretch to it, the Sonet is more like a bigger segment SUV in terms of its overall feel. The Magnite is also not the loser here as it delivers fantastic value for the price. It looks good and the CVT auto makes good sense for the city. Hence, if you want a budget SUV, but with the features and automatic, then the Magnite CVT makes very good sense.

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