Nissan Kicks Review - First Drive Impressions

Posted on Fri ,04 Jan 2019 6:13 pm
Vaibhav Yedavi
Rating by CG: 
    
Nissan Kicks Review - First Drive Impressions

With the Kicks, Nissan India has cooked up a delectable compact SUV recipe.

 

They say potatoes are the most versatile of foods. They can be boiled, mashed, fried or baked. They taste delicious prepared in just about any way you choose to.

 

Versatility is the key here and there is plenty of it to be found in the automotive world. Renault-Nissan has the ubiquitous B0 platform which it utilises in any number of ways it can. While the B0 is the base for the macho Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano, it is also found under the chic silhouette of the Parisian Renault Captur.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - Exterior

 

The B0 is also the base used by Nissan India for its jazzy new Kicks, a compact SUV designed to appeal to the burger younger generation. With its bold styling, butch stance and an elegantly styled interior wrapped in high-quality materials, the Nissan Kicks is without compromise.

 

But is it any good?

 

Well, the 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine is not going to set the road on fire with its 0-100km/h sprint time of around 13 seconds; but the upside is that the fuel gauge needle seems to move down in ultra-slow motion even when it sees a fair dose of spirited driving. With fuel prices following the curves on a camel’s hump on a daily basis, practicality really counts.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - 360-degree around view monitor

 

Speaking of practicality, the top feature in the Nissan Kicks is the surround view monitor. This neat tech (usually found in higher segment vehicles) utilises live video feed from four wide-angle cameras fixed around the car to stitch a 360-degree view of the immediate surroundings. It’s a boon for drivers who find themselves handicapped while manoeuvring in tight spaces.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - Exterior and Interior

 

The silhouette of the Nissan Kicks screams more crossover than compact SUV, and that is a good thing. Its expressive styling with the big front grille, large headlamps, the floating-effect roof, boomerang shaped tail lamps and the very rakish rear windscreen has just the right amount of flair with modern appeal. Oh, and the roof rails on top are functional and can carry a load of 100kg.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - Interior dashboard view

 

The interior of the Nissan Kicks is not as bold as the exterior though, but it is very well finished. The dual-tone brown and black interior theme with the padded soft-touch dashboard, faux carbon fibre and satin silver trim, as well as a clean and usable layout give the cabin a very premium feel. The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system picked from the international Nissan Altima sedan is the highlight of the interior. The Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible unit is crisp, intuitive and has a slick UI which works as fluidly as on any of the new smartphone devices.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - 8-inch floating infotainment touchscreen

 

The front and rear seats in the Kicks are comfortable with just the right amount of bolstering, but only little under-thigh support. The amount of legroom and headroom available all around is plenty though (unless you are a tall driver). The 400-litre boot space at the back is very usable as the rear wheel wells don’t protrude into the area. But if you want space which is accessible while driving there is one ahead of the gear lever. It gobbled up an iPad, walkie-talkie unit, wet wipes, fruit juice cartons, chocolate bars and chips. I bet there is more space in there than Ali Baba’s cave.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - Gear Shifter and Centre Console storage

 

What the Kicks cannot escape is the quirks of the B0 platform. The lowest position of the driver’s seat is set too high, and the height adjuster works only on the base of the seat thus creating an awkward angle with the backrest. Tall drivers will find their head hitting the roof on rough road drives. There is no deal pedal and since the footwell is cramped there is no space to rest your left leg. The other quirks include a fixed centre armrest which fouls with the handbrake operation, and the audio/phone controls mounted on a stalk behind the steering wheel which are unintuitive to operate if you are new to them.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine

 

Powering the Kicks is the dependable 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine in the same state of tune as in the Renault Captur – 108bhp @ 3850rpm and 240Nm @ 1750rpm. It is coupled to a 6-speed manual box which will be the only transmission option available at launch. The diesel clatter is evident at idle but the engine smoothens out once you start moving. The little turbo lag till 1800rpm isn’t much of a bother and the Kicks will make rapid progress after that all the way till 4000rpm. This engine can munch highway miles comfortably all day long doing 100-120 km/h without breaking a sweat. And it doesn’t drink much fuel too. The gear lever is not the slickest around but it slots into the gates with precision. Nissan has worked on the clutch to make it lighter and your left leg will definitely notice the less effort required if you have driven the Duster or Terrano for a considerable amount of time. At launch a 1.5-litre petrol (104bhp/142Nm, 5-speed MT) will also be on offer.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - Ride and Handling

 

The chassis manners of the Nissan Kicks are impeccable, a hallmark of the B0 platform. The Kicks feels a little stiffly sprung at low speeds (maybe because of the 17-inch wheels it rides on), but on the move it just glides over potholes and flattens speed bumps without making the slightest noise. Nissan has really done a good job with the NVH package on the Kicks with only wind noise filtering into the cabin at high speeds. The handling and grip while cornering is good too with only a slight hint of body roll evident when you take a corner enthusiastically. The steering weighs up nicely as the speed builds up, but it is very sharp and so you will need to have a firm grip on it at highway speeds. The brakes on the Kicks work well too and stop the car in a straight line without any fuss, but the feel of the pedal can definitely be improved.

 

So should you buy one?

 

The Kicks biggest rival, the Hyundai Creta, is well equipped, has a range of engine and transmission options available and has excellent driveability in the city. It is hard to beat. But with the Kicks, Nissan India has a strong contender to challenge the Creta. Styling is really the Kicks strongest selling point, but it is also well built, has a decently equipped and good quality interior and has impeccable highway manners. It does have some quirks too, but the Kicks is a complete package with the only missing option being an automatic transmission. If it manages to undercut the Creta by a decent margin, the Kicks can kick-start Nissan India’s revival.

 

Nissan Kicks Review - Camels In Background

 

And since we were driving in Bhuj, I will compare the Kicks to Kutchi dabeli then, an Indian burger prepared by stuffing a mashed potato mixture in a bun. Tough on the outside, soft on the inside and with just the right amount of sweetness and spiciness. How can you resist it?

 

Words & Photos by Vaibhav Yedavi

 

 

2019 Nissan Kicks (India) Specifications:

Engine – 1.5-litre, inline-4 cylinder turbo diesel; 108-bhp @ 3850 rpm & 240-Nm @ 1750 rpm | 1.5-litre, inline-4 cylinder petrol; 104-bhp @ 5600 rpm & 142-Nm @ 4000 rpm

Drivetrain – Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive

Transmission – 6-speed manual (diesel) | 5-speed manual (petrol)

Dimensions – 4384mm x 1813mm x 1656mm (length x width x height [with roof rails])

Wheelbase – 2673mm

Ground Clearance – 210mm (unladen)

Boot Space – 400 litres

Turning Radius – 5.2 metres

Equipment (depending on variant) – LED projectors, 17-inch alloys, automatic AC (will be standard on all variants), 8-inch touchscreen infotainment, 360-degree camera, automatic headlamps and wipers, cruise control, dynamic vehicle control, hill start assist, ABS+EBD, brake assist, four airbags, etc.

Price – TBA (to be announced)

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