Nissan Kicks: Driver’s delight

The Nissan Kicks is priced at 9.55 lakhs INR (Ex-India)

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Likes:

+ One of the best cars to drive in this segment. Pure hydraulic steering makes it a drivers delight. Loved the high-speed composure with a ground clearance of 210 mm

+ Brilliant ride quality. You cannot be disappointed even in the bumpiest roads with the Kicks.

+ Massive boot space. Enough to quench your thirst for more luggage on your next adventure

+ Top-notch quality. Leaps ahead of its Indian counterparts. Also, loved the dual-tone paint scheme offered by Nissan across all colours

+ First-in-class features like the 360-degree camera is very useful in tight parking spots

+ Massive ground clearance of 210 mm means you won’t scrape the bottom most of the time

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Dislikes:

– If your next car is an automatic, Nissan just lost a customer!

– Due to its dimensions and low stance, it looks more like a bloated hatch rather than a full-fledged SUV

– Kicks really missed out on storage space. Although it has the biggest boot, there is hardly any place to store your knick-knacks in the cabin

– The absence of tech-savvy features like wireless charging is an opportunity missed

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A shot from the Product presentation before the media drive:

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Cars lined up for the drive at the Border security check-post, Kutch, Gujarat:

Number game!

Engine 1.5 litre (1461 cc), 4-cyl (inline)
Power 110 bhp @ 3850 rpm
Torque 240 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Transmission 6-speed Manual
Kerb weight 1111 kgs
Fuel tank capacity 50 litres
Fuel efficiency 12.5 kmpl
Dimensions (mm) 4384 (L) x 1813  x 1656 (H)
Ground Clearance 210 mm
Turning Radius 5.2 metres

Ever since the Hyundai Creta was launched it created the compact SUV and has been a non-stop success since then. A lot of manufacturers have tried replicating that but no one has come close to it. Nissan India is the latest to join the race, with the Kicks.

It took 3 years for Nissan to debut the Kicks in India. Although it varies slightly from its Global counterpart, it’s Made-in-India and Made-for-India. Will it succeed in grabbing the throne from the very successful Hyundai Creta? Will it provide much-needed relief to Nissan in India by setting the sales chart on fire? Let’s drive…

Styling

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The Nissan Kicks is the first product from Nissan India which follows the brand’s global design language. Design elements like the sleek projector headlamps that flank the signature V-shaped grille, the sharp cuts on the flanks, the boomerang-shaped tail-lamps, the 17-inch diamond-cut alloys and the roof rails, all work well. And so do the blacked-out pillars, which along with the two-tone orange and silver paint scheme are a unique combination. In terms of size, the Kicks is also larger than the Creta in every dimension.

The front is very angular and sharp with the sleek headlamps with LED DRL’s and projector units. At the lower part you get fog lamps and at the centre, you get a honeycomb grille. Pair this with a strong hood and what you get is a very robust design upfront. Even, If you talk about the design from a wholesome view the car has a very dynamic stance on the road and looks really impressive. The discreet use of chrome around the grille, fog lamps and in the headlamp housing increase the sense of premiumness.

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Headlight unit consists of a projector unit and a halogen lamp. DRLs and fog lamps:

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Indians love chrome, chrome ascents are neatly integrated across the air dams in the front. Also, notice the chic and clear lens fog lamps:

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Nissan’s signature V-shaped grille dominates the front fascia: 

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ORVM’s are blacked-out and match the colour of the roof. In this case, it’s black!

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Chrome roof rails enhance the sporty character of the kicks. They are not only there for the aesthetic appeal but can also carry a weight of 100 kg:

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Although we couldn’t test the performance of the wipers, I found them to be of top-notch quality:

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Definitely, the best tail-lamps in its class. Leaps ahead of the boring design of Creta:

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They are better visible on the lighter shades, such as this:

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‘Nissan’ badge is predominantly placed in the grille.

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I wish it was slightly taller. It would have given it a perfect SUV stance:

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The Kicks definitely looks the best in this front three-quarter angle:

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A parting shot from the white Rann of Kutch!

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What a beautiful design of the sloping roof, the dual colour contrast makes such a massive difference in the overall appeal of the Kicks: 

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The rear window is significantly smaller compared the front:

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To give you a brief idea of its massive ground clearance, it’s 30 mm more than the Mahindra XUV 500. The Fortuner stands at 220 mm: 

The roofline drops quite low towards the rear, into a quite steeply raked rear windscreen.

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The presence of chrome integrated with the body cladding only makes things interesting in the design department. Really loved the way Nissan has focussed on tiny bits that make a significant difference. 

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Wrap-around tail-lamp feels really, really good:

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Look how beautiful the Kicks actually is:

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Notice the shark-fin inspired antenna and integrated reflector in the rear bumper:

At the rear, there are sharp and good-looking boomerang design tail lamps but a slight disappointment is that these aren’t LED, which could’ve added to the wow factor. The tailgate has got strong creases which give the Nissan Kicks a dynamic stance. Pair all these elements together and what you get is a thoroughly modern looking premium SUV, which could find a lot favour among urban buyers.

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Minimal panel-gaps across the car:

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Tap the request sensor with a key in your pocket and you are good to drive:

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Doors open pretty wide. This makes the ingress/egress easier for the elderly:

Cockpit

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The dark themed interiors don’t give the cabin a roomy feel and instead makes it look smaller than it actually is. There is no sunroof on offer or else at least it could have brought in some airy feel in the cabin. Interior styling is less trendy than the Kicks’ exterior design, but it is well-built, looks grown-up, and is ergonomically friendly. An adult-sized rear seat means it can haul people and cargo without the cramped feeling one might experience in rivals. While the interiors may certainly not be the best-in-class, they feel sturdy.

The grain for the plastics, the leather used on the steering (which has a hint of being flat-bottomed) dashboard and door pads look and feel like it was built for mainland Europe. The contrasting tan and black leather used in the cabin makes it look quite special. Interestingly, the leather-wrapped portion of the dash is offered in another finish that gives a more youthful look. The design also adds to the sense of sophistication. Used with discretion, the chrome and silver accents around the cabin lift the ambience. I could write a book on the bad ergonomics of the Terrano but in the case of kicks, things are different. The large 8-inch touchscreen is attention-grabbing. Also, the sound output from the speakers was simply stunning for a car of this price bracket.

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No dead pedal. Seriously? Would have loved the aluminium finished pedals though:

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However, things could have improved on the inside. Quality of door panel is nothing to write about. It’s just fine:

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Things are slightly better on the switches:

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Impressive, to say the least:

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The steering feels great to hold. Presence of thumb contours is an added advantage. But, what went wrong here is the option of controls on the steering. Sure, we could have had more of them. it doesn’t use the space judiciously for the regular steering mounted controls. Instead, Nissan has introduced an additional lever (like a paddle shifter) which is supposed to be used for controlling the media input. Simple integration of all controls on the steering wheel would have made much more sense in my opinion.

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Attention-to-detail:

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Premium quality stacks:

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The rotary dial for the A/C, however, feels old-school:

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6-speed manual with short throws. Expect a little rubber-band effect when shifting gears:

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Could have improved on the storage options, like the one here. No storage beneath the arm-rest:

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The front seats are supportive and adequately sized. As a driver, your vision level is way above the steering or the front wipers and this simply fuses more confidence into you in crowded spaces.

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Again, small-yet-significant things like the neat stitches add to the premium feeling inside the Kicks:

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A closer look:

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Vacation time?

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The massive boot comes to the rescue!! Perfect for the long weekends and airport pick-ups:

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Parcel tray:

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Premium headrest:

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Looks like the massive boot caved into the rear of Kicks. The legroom is not great:

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Truly keyless:

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I can drool over the alloys the entire day! Simply superb!

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Thanks to the arrow-straight roads of Gujarat. We could experience the full potential of the Nissan kicks!

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Now that’s how you design a key!

Drive:

Fire up the motor and all that effort that has gone into keeping the NVH levels low is visible. I mean, audible. The cabin is surprisingly very quite – be it on the move or at idle. . The diesel engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox which offers 110 bhp of power and 240 Nm of torque. The power delivery is brilliant from the word Go till the mid-range. Post that, it is linear and you can literally feel the speed. Although it was a delight to cruise at triple-digit speed, it did not feel extremely confidence inspiring. Surprisingly, there is no automatic on offer. When the Duster can use the same engine with an AMT, why not you Nissan? Likewise, the petrol motor too gets a manual and no CVT, again, unlike the Duster.

 

Ride and Handling

Ride and handling is something that is really a strong point for this car and having driven this car right from Bhuj to the Great Rann of Kutch, we encountered a lot of undulating and broken roads. Through all these roads the ride quality impressed us as the suspension soaks up all the bumps and the cabin remains largely insulated from all those undulations.

In terms of ride quality, the Kicks will definitely impress you by a huge margin. it’s simply superb. The suspension is tuned perfectly well in such a state that it’s neither too soft nor too hard. The handling was excellent at high speeds in the brilliant highways of Gujarat. Thanks to the Vehicle dynamic control by Nissan, the kicks feels extremely planted.  Cruise control comes to your rescue at highways. While most of the folks might love lighter steering, I loved the pure hydraulic setup which is definitely on a heavier side. Thanks to its short turning radius of 5.2 metres, it’s extremely manoeuvrable in the tight city spots.

For numbers, the engine revs all the way to 5000rpm and in the process takes you to just over 40 in the first gear, 76 in second and 114 in third. The initial gears are short (gearing) for better city usage while the tall 6th ensures that at 2000rpm, you are doing a very healthy 92 km/h. Even at 80 km/h, there is enough torque on avail for overtaking slower moving traffic without a downshift. The engine then is definitely one of the strongest points about the Kicks – not in the league of the 1.6 Creta, but surely rewards you with a good drive. And oh by the way, in case you like being chauffeur driven, the Eco mode will come handy to extract the most from each litre of fuel.

Safety

Helping the stability further is ABS with EBD and it also comes with Hill Start Assist and four airbags on the top variants for additional safety. On the contrary, the new Mahindra XUV 300 comes with 7 airbags, front parking sensors and ABS/EBD.

Competitive advantage

This is how the Nissan Kicks fares against its competition.

Specifications Nissan Kicks Mahindra XUV 3OO Tata Harrier Hyundai Creta
Engine 1.5 L Diesel (1461 cc), 4-cyl (inline) 1.2 L Diesel (4-cyl, inline) 2L Diesel (1956 cc), 4 cyl, inline 1.6 L Diesel (1582 cc), 4 cyl, inline
Power 110 bhp @ 3850 rpm 120 bhp 138bhp@3750rpm  126.2bhp@4000rpm 
Torque 240 Nm @ 1750 rpm 300 Nm 350Nm@1750-rpm  259.87NM@1500-3000rpm 
Transmission 6-speed Manual 6-speed manual 6-speed Manual 6-speed Manual
Kerb weight 1111 kg 1675 kg 1200 kg
Fuel tank capacity 50 litres 50 litres 55 litres
Fuel efficiency 14.5 kmpl 14 kmpl 15 kmpl
Dimensions (mm) 4384 (L) x 1813  x 1656 (H) 4598 (L) x 1894  x 1706 (H) 4270(L) x 1780  x 1665 (H)
Ground Clearance 210 mm 205 mm 198 mm

Should you buy one?

Nissan’s Kicks has played the premium card to stirr compact SUV segment. The Kicks shows that Nissan has gone the distance to make sure it feels the part too, and not just looks it. In the cabin, the Kicks seals this tag with the impressive materials and features. However, the lack of an automatic transmission option and the tighter than an expected sense of space, especially storage space in the cabin shrinks the Kicks’ appeal to some extent. And, no doubt the Kicks is a striking looking machine, but its crossover stance dims its allure further. Dimensionally larger than the Creta and with slightly better (stylish) design, the Kicks lacks few essentials. The engine and ride quality are its USPs and so is the silent cabin.

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