Nissan India has not had an enviable line up of cars. Their last all-new launch was the Terrano SUV, five years ago. Thats until they introduce this, the new Nissan Kicks SUV in January 2019. The nameplate is familiar worldwide but this Kicks is longer and taller as well as has a larger wheelbase. Moreover, it has been conceptualised by a team of Indian designers led by a Japanese chief. We were at the Rann of Kutch to drive this SUV.
Nissan Kicks Design
The new Nissan Kicks is unlike any other Nissan we have seen in India. This is primarily due to the introduction of the new V-motion grille that debuted first on the all-new Micra (not available in India). The headlights are LED projector units and get DRLs too. Nissan has also added fog lights with cornering function. To add to the SUV look, there are skid plates on the front and back. From the side, you notice the dual tone colour scheme – the roof is done in orange for the grey coloured car while the red coloured car gets a black roof. From the side profile, Nissan Kicks seems more hatchback-like. It indeed does remind one of the i20 Active. The brushed alloy wheels look good and host 17-inch tyres. The rear of the car is a typical hatchback stance. This one seems more crossover than a full fledged SUV. May be, that’s why they refer it as the “premium crossover”.
Nissan Kicks Interior
The cabin of the new Nissan Kicks SUV is way different than any other Nissan on sale today. So Nissan wasn’t boasting when they said this is an all-new vehicle, after all. There is soft touch leather everywhere and the brown and black upholstery looks good as well. Build quality is very good too. In all, the Nissan Kicks presents a premium feel. The instrument binnacle looks superb as well. We believe it is the same supplier as the Captur as the design basically is similar. There is lot of information to be gauged from the cluster, however there is no newness if you have already experienced the Creta. Nissan also provides an Eco driving mode, something we will elaborate in the engine section.
Feature-wise, there are auto folding and adjustable mirrors, an around view monitor that is useful while parking, climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen music system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, rear AC vents and push button start. Auto headlights as well as rain sensing wipers too are available. The steering wheel hosts the cruise control buttons while behind the wheel are the audio as well as Bluetooth call button.Boot space at 400 litres is enough however the rear seats don’t split 60:40 and instead tumble down in one go.
Nissan Kicks Engine and Transmission
While the diesel engine is the familiar 110PS/240Nm 1.5-litre unit, the petrol is a new (to the Nissan range) 1.5-litre naturally aspirated motor that is good for 106PS/145Nm. Both the engines are available with a manual transmission for the moment. We got to sample only the diesel Nissan Kicks. It is mated to a 6-speed unit while the petrol gets a 5-speeder. The clutch action is nice and light (for a diesel) while the shifts are positive too. The engine sounds clattery on the outside but on the inside, it is refined than the Terrano. There is minimal turbo lag and while we drove it on the highway 95 per cent of the time, the fuel economy never went over 18kmpl. Nissan didn’t have a claimed fuel efficiency number for us.
For overtaking maneuvers, one has to downshift as the engine runs out of steam pretty quickly. Effortless cruising is possible with this motor though. The Eco mode doesn’t dull the engine response and it sometimes makes you wonder if it is actually working or not.
Nissan Kicks Ride and Handling
The same underpinnings as the Renault Captur have been used here. This again is a modified unit of the Terrano. To say that Nissan Kicks rides brilliantly is an understatement. There are no thuds transmitted to the cabin. The handling on its own would have been good too, save for the steering wheel. It is too light and becomes nervous mid-corner. This affects the handling of the SUV. Steering kickback action is lower than the Terrano and the driver’s seat doesn’t rock under heavy braking. Speaking of which, the brakes work well, however towards the top of the pedal travel, they tend to become lifeless. We appreciate the 210mm ground clearance on this front wheel driven vehicle.
Four airbags, ABS with EBD, Vehicle Dynamic Stability and Hill-Hold Assist are on offer with the Nissan Kicks. However, whether these are standard or not remains to be seen.
The Nissan Kicks will be launched in India on 22nd Jan 2019. The around view camera is a nice touch, the engine is decently refined as well as punchy and the fuel economy should be good too. However price could be a critical factor. The expected price will be Rs 11-15 lakh. If they can price it a bit lower, you got a winner, Nissan India.