Nissan Kicks – Test Drive Report. Should You Be Kicked About It?
Nissan Kicks, marks Nissan’s entry into a segment dominated by the Hyundai Creta. We drove the Kicks at the Rann of Kutch in the last month of 2018. With Nissan launching the Kicks in a couple of weeks, here is our report to help your purchase decision.
Nissan is known globally for its massive unbreakable SUVs, the electric vehicle – Nissan Leaf and the supercar killer – The Nissan GTR. In India though, Nissan has a small footprint with Nissan Terrano, Micra and Sunny. Nissan also sells the GTR in India, but the Halo Car hasn’t been able to revive the brand's image in India. Nissan India plans to change this with The New Kicks.
Now, The Hyundai Creta has been very popular SUV in its segment. The 5 seater layout, premium interiors, small and big petrol/diesel engine options with auto/manual transmissions of the Hyundai Creta has gone well with Indian Car buyers. Nissan has understood this and applied the same mantra to The New Kicks. Let us dissect Nissan’s New India Specific product and see what it offers.
On the Outside.
The India specific Nissan Kicks is bigger than the international version, which is good. The Kicks in first glance looks BIG, the design language is very unconventional like typical Nissan products. It is not a love at first sight sort of design but it has a lot of the new age design elements like the floating roof design with dual colored roof, LED DRLs and Projector set up upfront. The front is dominated by Nissan’s V-motion grille. The Fog lamps below also act as cornering lights.
In the Side profile, the kicks looks the best with a very purposeful stance. The floating roof effect has been executed very well. Body cladding runs throughout the bottom of the car along the bulging wheel arches, completing a tough exterior. Rear glass area is a bit small with a strong shoulder line running from the front fender to the rear. Diamond cut alloy wheel designs are the rage with every manufacturer now and The Kicks has it too. The Alloys look nice and the 17’ size fills up the wheel arches.
Moving to the rear of The New Nissan Kicks, The design is very striking, very modern. The rear is sort of protruding out of the body lines probably done to free up a little extra space inside. The wrap around boomerang shaped tail-lights are funky but sadly there is no LED treatment here. Rear bumper houses the reflectors and a center mounted rear fog lamp. On the top, there is an integrated spoiler with a brake light in the center. There is no variant badging as well following the current trend amongst the Car designers. Overall the rear design is wacky without being over the top.
On the Inside
Nissan has worked a lot on the Indian version of the New Kicks to provide a premium experience to the buyer, this is evident the moment you open the door. The doors on our media car opened with a nice click and shuts with a nice solid feeling thud. The Door panels are mostly black plastic, but the elbow resting area is covered in coffee brown leather. The power window switches housing is finished in faux carbon fibre with a satin silver plastic insert.
The seats are finished in coffee brown and black leather with quilted stitching in the center. The front driver seat doesn’t offer electric adjustments, it can be adjusted for height but manually only. Having said that, the front seats offer good support and cushioning. We drove the Nissan Kicks for close to 100kms and the seats offered great comfort.
Rear seats are a comfortable place to be as well with decent amount of under-thigh support and decent leg room. There is center armrest in front and back offering comfort in long drives. Nissan has provided rear air-con vents in The Kicks along with an air flow control dial and a 12volt charging socket. Magazine pocket is only available on behind the passenger seat.
Nissan has given the New Kicks a very well designed Dashboard. The materials used are of a premium quality and overall layout is very ergonomic barring cruise control buttons, more on this later. The Steering of the New Kicks feels nice and chunky to hold. The three spoke design is also nice to look at. The Coffee brown leather runs through the center of the dashboard offering a premium look and feel to the overall cabin. The center of the dashboard is dominated by the 8” touchscreen unit offering a plethora of features.
The infotainment system is a comprehensive unit offering Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Bluetooth etc. The audio quality of this system is excellent as well. The 8” LCD panel used offers good resolution and good visibility in sunlight and the touch response is fast. The Party trick here is the 360degree reverse camera (Segment first), this feature is only available in vehicles much higher in the price range. 4 cameras are used to generate the 360 videos and this helps in parking in tight places. 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.
Fully automatic climate control is available through the range in the New Nissan Kicks. The blower works without making much noise and offers good air flow to cool the cabin.
The other striking part of the New Nissan Kicks interior is the instrument panel, This analogue and digital mix console is surely wacky. The rpm gauge is analogue, placed on the left and with analogue fuel gauge sitting on the right. The center of the control is dominated by a digital speedometer and a small Multi-Information Display (MID) on top. The MID screen displays a lot of information like distance to empty, cruise control, trip meters etc.
Overall the cabin of the New Nissan Kicks is a premium and plush place to be. The fit and finish levels are very high, the panel gaps are consistent and there is no rattling whatsoever. There are a few things which we found a bit unusual. The Cruise Control switch is located on the right side of the driver, you can control the cruise speeds from the steering though. Apart from this, the Audio Control switch is located below the steering wheel and the +/- buttons on the steering do not control the volume of the infotainment system. Takes about 15mins to get used to this but ergonomically it’s a disaster. Also, footwell is small if you will find your knee hitting the center console often as there is no dead pedal as well.
On the Powertrain
The New Nissan Kicks is powered by the 1500cc K9K diesel motor. This motor is already well known for its reliability around the world. In the New Kicks, the K9K pushes out 110ps with 250nm of peak torque. The NVH levels inside and outside are low thanks to good quality sound deadening used by Nissan, enhancing the overall premium feel of the New Kicks. The K9K motor is mated to a 6speed manual transmission. The motor and transmission combo makes the Kicks very tractable and it easily pulls in any gear. On our media vehicle, which was driven aggressively and at various speeds, The Kicks returned 17kmpl consistently. In normal day-to-day conditions, the Kicks should return better mileage. Also, an automatic transmission would have added to the premium factor and is sorely missed on the Kicks.
On the Ride and Handling
The makers of the Godzilla – The GTR and the big Armada, Nissan knows a thing or two about ride and handling. The New Kicks impresses in this department. While driving from the City of Bhuj to Rann of Kutch, we encountered a lot of broken roads and potholes, and the New Kicks handled it with aplomb.
The ride feels tight and firm at slow speeds, but as the speeds increase the New Kicks handles road undulations and corners without much fuss. With 210mm of ground clearance and a short 5.2meter turning radius, the Kicks is high and nimble enough to go most places in comfort. Talking about build quality, No rattles in the cabin and minimal body flex were felt when we driving over potholes and ruts. The steering feels positive and the straight line stability is very good, overall the New Kicks rides well and feels like its built to last.
With the Nissan Kicks, Nissan has got an all-rounder with the focus on premium mobility. The Kicks has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, will it able to unsettle the Hyundai Creta. We will have to see.