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First Drive Report: The Nissan Kicks has finally arrived in India, almost two years after its global sibling made an entry into foreign markets. In fact, the global variant has received several awards including the 'Best SUV Of 2017' title. To make things more interesting, the India-spec Nissan Kicks is actually larger than the one sold outside the country!
Rumours suggest that the new Kicks will replace the Nissan Terrano — the five-seater SUV which came along with the Renault Duster, a few years ago. Falling prey to time, the Terrano soon became outdated owing to several upgrades made by competitor vehicles, including the Duster which saw some updates. The Nissan Kicks, however, will be a far cry from that and it promises a lot.
But, is it enough to woo the market away from its popular South Korean rival?
We drive the all-new Nissan Kicks — the "Progressive SUV" — through the salt marshes of the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, to find out!
Design And Styling
The Nissan Kicks is the first product from Nissan India which follows the brand's global design language. This fact becomes quite evident when we place the Kicks side-by-side an existing Nissan product such as the Sunny or even the Terrano.
At the front of the Kicks, the iconic ‘V-motion' grille hints at modernity, while the LED projector headlamps feature a ‘Boomerang' signature. The front profile is rich with chrome in just the right amount. The fog lamps are placed lower (and functionally) than usual, as the silver skid plate adds some ruggedness.
Along the side, we observe another prominent design trait of modern Nissan products — ‘Dynamic Sonic Pulse' (an edgy combination of the character line and the beltline); along with the floating roof. The roof rails harmonise graciously with the rest of the design courtesy of the ‘infinite' design trait.
The new Nissan Kicks rides on a set of 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels that sit steadfastly with the overall package. With ground clearance of 210mm and best-in-class turning radius of just 5.2 metres, the Nissan Kicks does not hiccup in the manoeuvrability department.
The rear profile showcases nearly-identical design features as the front of the Nissan Kicks. The ‘Boomerang' tail lamps, rugged bumper proportions and the raked windshield give the Kicks, an imposing posterior.
The interiors of the Nissan Kicks follow a modern, yet minimal, aesthetic approach. The ‘Gliding Wing' dashboard gives a sense of "expanding space" as per Nissan.
The layout looks clean and is designed in a way that there is no visual pollution of buttons. To keep things a bit on the premium side, the dashboard boasts of a brown leather finish, backed by good-quality black plastic panels and subtle silver elements. Some panels are given a faux carbon fibre texture, which may disappoint some perfectionists.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel looks and feels good. In fact, it looks strikingly similar to previous-generation Mercedes-Benz models such as the W203 C-Class or the W212 E-Class. We will say that the button layout on the steering is rather confusing since they only relate to the cruise control. Meanwhile, the audio and telephone controls are placed on a separate stalk behind the steering wheel, making this an unusually odd placement.
The instrument console is semi-digital, with the tachometer on the left, while the fuel gauge occupies most of the space on the right. The digital speedometer lies in the centre and is flanked by the turn signals. Above that, is another digital display for the odometer, trip, range, average speed, etc. Though Nissan looks to have tried their best in making the instrument console as modern-looking as possible, the layout seems to be a slight afterthought.
Stereo And Infotainment
The 8.0-inch floating touchscreen panel is borrowed straight from the 2019 Nissan Altima sedan. It comes with a host of features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and their respective voice commands: "Hey Siri" and "Okay Google".
Furthermore, Nissan India has introduced the NissanConnect smartphone app, through which you access some functionalities such as service booking and reminders, drive alerts, tow-away alert, vehicle health (engine, battery and brake) and door lock/unlock status.
The six-speaker audio system (four door speaker; two tweeters) may not be the best in the market, but it certainly is good. The audio system is supported by an equaliser which Nissan refers to as the Bass Enhancer.
Practicality, Comfort And Boot
The interiors follow the same brown-black dual-tone theme, with ample amounts of leather.
Measuring 4384mm, the Nissan Kicks is longer than most five-seater SUVs in its segment. This however, does not translate inside as the dimensions are mostly taken up by the protruding exterior design contours.
The front seats are wide and comfortable for the lower half, however, even average-sized passengers may want to raise the headrests from their original position. The co-passenger seat is set rather high, perhaps to administer a commanding position or provide a sense of the same.
The leather is nice to the touch and the contrast stitching is quite good. The driver seat is height-adjustable to make up for the lack of telescopic steering adjustment.
Interior storage is limited to a small glovebox (cooled and illuminated). The absence of front cup holders and the lack of a storage compartment under the fixed (non-slideable) armrest is noticeable. The door pockets are large and can easily accommodate one-litre bottles. Although there is just the one USB port, power socketsare provided for both the front and rear passengers.
The climate control knobs sport a premium look and feel. The functions are pretty basic, although the layout looks impressive. Cooling speed is also worth mentioning.
Rear-seat comfort is quite decent, but definitely not the best. The seats are a bit short on the under-thigh support and the headrests are too low for taller passengers. However, the relatively-smaller seats translate to better headroom and legroom. Middle-passenger comfort is surprisingly good even with the rear AC vents at the bottom. When the middle seat is not in use, the conventional armrest-cupholder combo can be availed.
The Nissan Kicks in India is not just a cost-cut version of its international avatar (a common case with many cars currently in the market). Instead, the India-spec Nissan Kicks has been specifically engineered to meet the Indian needs.
For instance, the portion under the doors fold inward unlike the international variant. This is to enable the easy ingress and egress of passengers wearing Indian outfits such as the saree or dhoti — a step forward in being more inclusive.
Another segment-first feature which amps up the SUV's usability is the 360-degree camera; dubbed as the Around View Monitor. Rarely seen in cars costing less than Rs 20 lakh, this feature helps navigate through tight traffic and parking conditions; especially if the wheels are too close to the curb.
At 400 litres, the Nissan Kicks does not offer great boot capacity. The rear bench is neither split-foldable nor does it fold flat. On the other hand, the ‘dual-operable' parcel shelf allows you access to the boot from the inside. Underneath the floor of the boot rests a full-size steel spare wheel.
Engine, Performance And Driving Impressions
The new Nissan Kicks comes with the familiar 1.5-litre K9K DCi diesel engine, which powers a range of Renault-Nissan products currently in the market. The Kicks' power plant makes 108bhp and 240Nm of torque, while coming mated only to a six-speed manual transmission.
The Nissan Kicks will also be available in a 1.5-litre H4K petrol format which makes a decent 104bhp and 142Nm of torque; mated to a five-speed manual. There is no news on an automatic option in either fuel formats.
The diesel engine behaves similar to the Nissan Terrano (110ps variant) with a neat torque delivery for quick overtakes and a good midrange for triple-digit cruising. Turbo lag is quite evident below 2000rpm, but the engine is quite praised for the torque-kick it gives afterwards.
What is most impressive is the driving dynamics of the Nissan Kicks. Nissan engineers from Japan and India have put in great efforts to make the Kicks as dynamically-capable as possible. The SUV rides really planted at high speeds and the steering weighs up nicely to give enough driving confidence.
The gears are well spread out to provide a great driving experience. Third gear seems to be the most engaging choice and it can pull you from as low as 40km/h to near 100s without breaking a sweat. In addition, the Nissan Kicks can easily cruise at 80 – 90km/h on top gear, and pull effortlessly from then on.
The route we took was straight and free. Making sure it was safe, we could hit a top speed of 171km/h and the Kicks had no problem maintaining the pace.
The ECO mode helps improve fuel efficiency a bit by cutting down the power and weakening the throttle response. It is best to keep the car in ECO whilst in a traffic congestion.
Still an SUV at its core, the Nissan Kicks is an able soft off-roader. The front-wheel-drive powertrain may not be the most helpful, but assists such as Hill Start and Intelligent Trace Control (traction control), plus the high ground clearance makes it a decent choice for bad roads.
Furthermore, the suspension is well-composed for the Indian terrain. Hitting potholes and small undulations at triple-digit speeds causes very low disturbances than expected. The suspension is tuned to perform well in all three conditions: rough terrain, straight highways and sharp corners.
We also felt a slight kickback from the steering wheel while taking fast corners on some not-so-smooth roads. This was absent on level roads.
The Nissan Kicks is an all-rounder with a key focus to dynamics. It does not excel over its competitors in any particular aspect, but certainly leaves its mark on everything.
|Engine Size||1.5-litre (1461cc)|
|No. Of Cylinders||In-line four|
|Power (bhp)||108 @ 3850rpm|
|Torque (Nm)||240 @ 1750rpm|
|Tyres (mm)||215/60 R17|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1110 (approx.)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres)||50|
The Nissan Kicks is longer and wider than almost every five-seater in its price bracket.
Variants, Mileage And Colours
The Nissan Kicks is expected to be launched in three variants: XE, XL and XV; just like the Terrano. Prices should start from around Rs 11 lakh and go up to 15 lakh for the top variant; figures being ex-showroom (Delhi).
There are no official claims on the mileage of the Nissan Kicks, but under heavy-footed driving, the SUV surprisingly returned an average of 12.3km/l.
Hence in ideal conditions, expect the Nissan Kicks to have a mileage figure in the range of 15 – 17km/l; or even the near 20km/l range on the highway.
The colour choices of the India-spec Nissan Kicks have not been officially shared. However, the international variants gets a whopping 11 paint options (six single-tone; five double-tone): Cayenne Red, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Aspen White, Deep Blue Pearl, Aspen White/Super Black, Gun Metallic/Monarch Orange (showcase car), Cayenne Red/Super Black (review car), Deep Blue Pearl/Fresh Powder and Monarch Orange/Super Black — among which at least seven are expected to be available in India.
Safety And Key Features
Besides fuel efficiency and price, the Indian automotive market is most concerned about the features on offer. In this regard, the new Nissan Kicks does not disappoint with its rich list of equipment; some of which were mentioned above.
On the safety front, the Nissan Kicks gets only four airbags, but boasts of a unique GRAPHENE (Gravity-philic Energy Absorption) body structure which promises better impact energy-absorption. The same architecture also makes the Kicks a durable product for the harsh Indian weather and terrain conditions.
That being said, here are some of the other prominent feature-highlights of the new Nissan Kicks:
- NissanConnect (comprises more than 50 smartphone-based functions)
- Automatic headlamps and wiper
- Mood lighting
- Cornering fog lamps
- Keyless entry
- Functional roof rails (loading capacity: 100kg)
The Nissan Kicks competes in one of the high-demand segments on the Indian automotive market — sub-20-lakh five-seater SUV category. At present, the Hyundai Creta is the segment leader, while the likes of the Maruti S-Cross are not any less. Even the Renault Captur (same platform as the Kicks) showcases some competition.
Here is a brief fact-check comparison between the Nissan Kicks and its rivals:
|Specifications||Nissan Kicks||Hyundai Creta*||Maruti S-Cross|
|Engine||1.5-litre diesel||1.4-litre diesel||1.3-litre diesel|
|Power (bhp)||108||89||89 |
|Transmission||6-speed MT||6-Speed MT||5-speed MT|
*The Hyundai Creta is also available in a 1.6-litre diesel format (126bhp/260Nm).
Marking the return of Nissan India to the SUV segment, the Nissan Kicks promises a lot. We think that the once-proven Terrano will surely see a good successor in the Nissan Kicks. What remains to be seen is whether or not it brings enough to the table to ‘kick' its way to the top of the sales charts.
What We Liked
- Modern and clean dashboard design
- Excellent dynamics and high-speed stability; even after having such high ground clearance
- Adaptable power delivery (for the city and highway)
- Feature-rich package
- Attention to making it India-specific
What We Didn't Like
- No automatic option
- Pedals are a bit close to each other (this is because the central tunnel is slightly inclined towards the driver side rather than passenger side, as the international variants are left-hand-drive)
- Cabin space is decent, but far less for its exterior dimensions
- Seating could have been better
- Storage space is limited, even for the boot (no split-folding rear seats)
What You Need To Know
- Expected Launch: January 2019
- Expected Price: Rs 11 – 15 lakh ex-showroom (Delhi)
- Booking Details: Starts on 14th December 2018
- Manufacturing: Nissan-Renault Plant in Chennai, Tamil Nadu
- Platform: Renault B0 (same as of the Captur)
Did You Know?
The Nissan logo is essentially a modified version of the original Datsun logo from the 1930s. During that time, Datsun had the upper hand in the alliance since they produced cars for foreign markets while Nissan mainly targeted only the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM). For the same reason, Datsun required a recognizable logo.
The original Datsun logo comprised of a blue rectangle in which "Datsun" was written, placed against a red circle signifying the rising sun (Japan is known as the "Land Of The Rising Sun"). However, in 1984, the group discontinued the Datsun division. The word "Nissan" took over the place of "Datsun", and in the bid to make it modern and ‘period-correct', the existing logo went through a revamp. The blue and red colour tones were replaced by silver and the logo evolved to what we see now.