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International Drive Review: Nissan Kicks

Published On Sep 15, 2018 By CarDekho for Nissan Kicks

We take to the roads of Dubai in the international-spec Kicks to see what we can expect Nissan to bring to India

It’s no secret that Nissan is planning to bring the Kicks SUV to India in January 2019. But as the recently released statement and sketch from Nissan stated that the Kicks coming to India will be different from the one currently sold in international markets, expect it to follow in the Renault Captur’s footsteps, which differs significantly from its international-spec version. Nonetheless, we headed to Dubai to drive the international-spec Nissan Kicks to check out what we can expect Nissan to bring to India.

 

Exterior

At first glance, the Nissan Kicks barely qualifies as an SUV. Even the crossover tag would be a little generous. It looks like a large hatchback that has been raised slightly, making it a lot like the Hyundai i20 Active, but a little longer. The international-spec Kicks sits quite close to the ground, at least by Indian standards. At 4295mm in length, it is 25mm longer than Hyundai Creta and also has a 30mm longer wheelbase of 2620mm. However, it is slightly narrower and significantly shorter than Hyundai’s best-selling compact SUV.

The front end is dominated by Nissan’s new grille, which is flanked by two sleek, wraparound headlamps. The Kicks we drove was not the top-spec variant, so the car did not have projector headlamps or alloy wheels. They are, however, available in the top-spec variant. The bonnet is well sculpted, which along with slightly flared wheel arches, gives the car a confident stance. The strong shoulder line blends into the tail lamps, while the roof slopes slightly as well. It features an elongated tailgate which hides a 432-litre boot. The wraparound taillamps spill on to the bootlid and the Kicks features a rather low loading lip as well.

 

What to expect from the India-spec version

As we said before, Nissan has stated that the Kicks coming to India will be bigger than the international version. But the Nissan already trumps the Creta in terms of length and wheelbase and those could remain unaltered even though the India-spec Kicks will likely be based on the B0 same platform as the Captur. We expect the India-spec version to be higher and slightly wider than the car we drove.

Official sketch of India-spec Nissan Kicks

 

Interiors

The cabin of the Kicks is simple yet quite well laid out. We drove the SV version, which is the middle variant, with the S being the base and the SL being the range topper. Let’s start with space. It is ample. The wheelbase of 2620mm also frees up more room inside the cabin. There is ample space to move around, the floor is practically flat and there’s ample kneeroom left over in the rear bench even with a six-footer in the driver’s seat! Finally, don’t let the sloping roofline fool you, there’s ample headroom even for people slightly taller than six-feet.

As for the equipment, the SV variant comes with traditional analogue clocks which flank a digital MID (multi-info display) screen that displays fuel and trip-related information. You also get steering-mounted controls for the single-din audio system that features Bluetooth connectivity. The driver’s seat, too, is height adjustable and it comes with a rake and reach adjustable steering wheel, which is quite neat. The quality of materials used is also adequate. Although nothing feels cheap, the rear door panels do leave some room for improvement. However, it doesn’t get parking sensors or a reversing camera, both of which are available on the top-sec variant, that too as optional extras.

 

Expectations from the India-spec Kicks

We hope the interior is carried over for the quality of materials used on the international-spec Kicks is rather good. Leather seats, climate control and curtain and side airbags are likely to be part of the top variant only. But considering the fact that the Kicks will be sold as a premium compact SUV, we hope Nissan offers climate control and parking sensors as standard across the range. The touchscreen infotainment system, on the other hand, will likely be offered on the top-spec variant as standard and not as an optional extra. Dual airbags and ABS with EBD are also expected to be a part of the standard package.

 

Engine and Transmission

The Kicks we drove was powered by Nissan’s 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine which produces 120PS of max power and 149Nm of peak torque. The engine is mated to a CVT transmission that only drives the front wheels. At tickover, the engine feels quiet, while on the move, it feels smooth and refined. The CVT too is a responsive unit and works rather well. There is almost little to no delay from the time you press the accelerator and the vehicle moving forward. However, when you floor it, there is a slight delay before the CVT transfers power to the wheels. But overall, the power delivery is smooth and linear, while the mid-range torque is adequate to propel the Kicks with minimal effort.

 

Expectations from the India-spec Kicks

We expect Nissan to launch the India-spec Kicks with its renowned K9K 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine. It is a proven motor which can support various states of tune. Not to mention, it is also BSVI-ready. However, we do hope that the Kicks is offered with the 1.6-litre petrol motor as well. But that’s quite unlikely. Meanwhile, Nissan should be able to offer the AMT transmission with the diesel engine as as the company already sells the Terrano with the same combo.

 

Ride and Handling

The suspension on the international-spec Nissan Kicks is a bit on the stiffer side, which is part of the reason that it is quite a stable car. It also comes with a unique traction control system that uses the brakes to maintain traction, especially over bumpy sections. The application of the brakes is not noticeable and helps the Kicks offer a fuss-free ride. The crossover never feels floaty and it feels stable and planted even above 120kmph.

There is adequate feel from the steering and the brakes, which provide good bite. However, a little less pedal travel would’ve been more helpful. The only gripe we had with the car was the amount of road and wind noise that seeps into the cabin, especially at 100kmph and above.

 

Expectations from the India-spec Kicks

We hope the India-spec Kicks gets better wheel well padding as the concrete highways of our country will compound the issue of tyre roar seeping into the cabin. In addition, we expect the India-spec Kicks to have a softer ride as the focus will likely be on ride comfort rather than outright drivability. That said, we do hope that India-spec Kicks retains some of the stiffness that the international version offers to make it fun around corners.

 

Verdict

It will not be easy for Nissan to breach the compact SUV segment thanks to cars like Hyundai Creta and the Renault Duster which still dominate the market. But having driven the Kicks, we can say for certain that it is a good product, especially from an Indian standpoint. But Nissan will have to play it very smart in terms of pricing and the features it decides to offer on its first new launch in years.

Text & images: Kshitij Sharma

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