Sexy siblings. But scratch a little and Magnite & Kiger prove sugar coated pills

A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way. Now just imagine that you’re listening to Mary Poppins singing that on a badly scratched record. Hold the thought.


South Africans have always had a fetish for crap cars wrapped up in delightful marketing lies. Think CitiGolf, Tazz, the 1400 bakkie and Midge. Some lasted four generations too long. We despised them back then, even lost advertising from more than one carmaker for condemning their dubious schemes. But stories like our Daihatsu & the Dinosaurs in Cars in Action twenty years ago and others, eventually culled the worst of them. Hell, I even raced the Citi goodbye!

Time has moved on. Those good old Zarf specials indeed continue. Happily now they’re limited to just previous generation cars like Vivo and Quest. Good deals on reasonable enough platforms. Not 40 year old death traps kept in production to swell the coffers.

Now there’s a new discount car phenomenon. And these two best quantify all that’s wrong with these new generation ‘bargains’ smashed together in dubious sweat shops, who knows where. I was away most of the time we had the Nissan Magnite. The guys told me I should consider myself lucky. I wasn’t as fortunate when Kiger pitched up. Having experienced both, it eased our pain in that we could get this over with in one foul swoop. That foul is fully intended, by the way.


One seems to be named after a torch. The other badge appears to have been spelled in the order that lettered balls spilled out of a Bingo machine. At first sight, they’re quite sweet. Excuse the pun. Both carry their individual brands’ latest styling cues across. And both look the part.

Swing the door open and they also seem cute inside. But climb aboard… and it all falls apart. Try plug the seatbelt in and it’s a struggle. Why is that binnacle so broad? And while they are their own cool characters to an extent, it soon becomes apparent that their dashes are layered with cheap, nasty plastics and those black finishes scratch for nothing. Then the person in the back starts complaining. And they smell too.

True, there are plusses. Each has abundant gadgets and goodies to play with. Their steering wheels are omni-functional and each has a half decent touchscreen infotainment full of latest buzzword functions too. They also differ a bit — one of them has that screen above the climate vents, the other below. And individual screen graphics too. But no cup holders. We discovered that much when we needed to stow our Kentucky shakes after the drive through. No cupholders? In 2022? Really?


On the road, these 74 kW and 152 Nm Nissan and 160 Nm Renault litre turbo triples are actually quite handy, as the test figures attest. But it’s a rowdy little unit and vibrates like hell. Ride is fine. If you’re lucky enough to be driving a billiard table smooth road. Add African bumps and they dump any composure. Odd for a car ‘developed’ in India? Did they actually test these chassis before stuffing them out of those sweat shops? Cheap and nasty does them great credit!

Safety is a moot point. Someone mentioned that a crash test as dubious as their origins rated them at four stars. Plausibly a step up on their deathtrap siblings. But try climb out and you wonder how they have any safety stars at all? They lock you in! And once you escape, they lock themselves too. If you want them to or not. Most of which logic had us scratching our heads. As much as the fact that Kiger cannot hold a candle to the Sandero it replaces, makes us scratch our heads.

Yes, of course, the Renault looks like a Renault and the Nissan a Nissan. But then some of their badge engineered rivals appear to have spent far less effort differentiating their brands. And a lot more of it better developing and finishing their products.


Kiger and Magnite’s turbo triple engine has poke. Some of their gadgets are cool and they’re designed to look the part. But they are poorly developed, shoddily executed, flimsy and below par in far too many ways. In fact, these terrible twins are the least inspiring cars we’ve tested in a while. A long while, actually. You can do far better with your three hundred grand. Just scratch a little. – Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED:  Nissan Magnite Renault Kiger
              1.0 Turbo      1.0 Turbo
              Acenta Plus    Intens
Output        74 kW 152 Nm   74 kW 160 Nm
Capacity      1-litre turbo  1-litre turbo
Engine:       Petrol I3      Petrol I3
Drive:        5-speed M FWD  5-speed M FWD
0-60 km/h:    4.55 sec       4.41 sec
0-100 km/h:   10.28 sec      10.07 sec
0-120 km/h:   14.52 sec      14.33 sec
0-160 km/h:   33.87 sec      33.08 sec
400m Time:    17.3 sec       17.2 sec
400m Speed:   129 km/h       131 km/h
80-120 km/h:  7.74 sec       7.56 sec
120-160 km/h: 19.35 sec      18.88 sec
VMax:         173 km/h       175 km/h
Fuel:         5.3 l/100 km   5.0 l/100 km
CO2:          125 g/km       119g/km
Warranty:     6y 150K km     5y 150K km
Service:      3y 30K km      3y 45K km
LIST PRICE:   R287K          R269K
RATED:        5              5 
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