What is it?
The Kicks is Nissan’s foray into the booming small crossover/SUV market. This new SUV will soon be on sale in not one but over 80 countries, and India is likely to feature in the list. But these countries are mostly emerging markets, and the Kicks may not make its way into markets like the UK. The Nissan Kicks actually sits at the bottom end of Nissan’s global crossover portfolio which includes popular models like the Juke, Qashqai and the X-trail. For India, it will most likely be positioned above the Terrano.
The crossover is based on the same V-platform that underpins the Micra, the Sunny, the Scala and the Pulse in our market. However, this architecture is slightly tweaked for the crossover and it gets a newly designed rear twist beam. As far as dimensions go, the Kicks is 4,295mm long, 1,760mm high and 1,590mm wide, which makes it a tad smaller than the Terrano (4331mmx1822mmx1671mm).
The Kicks sticks to its crossover genes and comes only as a FWD. Power comes from a 1.6-litre petrol motor good for 113-118hp depending on the market. The petrol Kicks sold overseas comes with a five-speed manual or an optional CVT gearbox. For India, the crossover could come with the option of a 1.5-litre K9K dCi diesel.
The Kicks is equipped with some cool tech too. It gets Active Ride Control, which essentially performs the same functions as adaptive dampers, only without the adaptive dampers. Instead it applies individual brakes to prevent body pitch off the back of large bumps and crests, allowing softer spring rates, while still retaining body control.
What's it like?
On the inside it gets a pretty straightforward and neat-looking cabin layout. The dual-tone dash gets soft-touch treatment and subtle use of faux aluminium and chrome which extends to the door handles. A large screen sits at the centre which takes care of music, navigation and other infotainment duties. The AC vents at the sides are round, while the ones at the centre are neatly tucked right above the screen. The steering wheel is all new with dedicated controls for audio and cruise control, depending on the region. The panel for climate control sits below the screen and has its own display. The Kicks crossover in top spec will come with a push-button start as well. There’s a decent amount of head and legroom at the front and rear, and a 383-litre boot. So it makes pretty good use of its dimensions.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine is not a bad motor. Once you’re cruising, it’s very quiet, but such is the nature of conventional CVTs that if you want to accelerate, you’ll not only be waiting a while. The claimed 0-100kph time is 12 seconds, which feels about right, but it’s easier for all concerned not to try to match it.
The overall ride quality is generally composed. There’s a moderate amount of body lean, and body control is fine. The steering is light around town and moderately weighted at speed. It’s well geared but there’s some stiction off the straight-ahead and it’s less accurate than we’d like. Still, you turn it, and it turns the wheels as much as you expect.
Should I buy one?
As mentioned earlier the Kicks will be positioned above the Terrano in India. This means, it will cater to the premium end of the small SUV market which includes the Creta and the top-spec versions of the XUV500. There is also another rival that could challenge the Kicks – the Renault Kaptur, which is likely to be positioned at a similar price point. The Nissan ticks all the right boxes for attractive styling, premium interiors and most likely tried and trusted diesel engine which powers a number of other Renault-Nissan models. If Nissan prices the Kicks diesel in the Creta's territory, the current segment king will surely face some true competition.