Nissan Kicks Expert Review

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Introduction

The Nissan Kicks is here and it looks promising on paper. It’s longer than any other compact SUV or crossover in India, wider than the Creta and is quite feature rich too. It’s got a tried and tested diesel engine and underpinnings that have managed to impress us in the past for ride quality. So there’s quite a lot that already makes the Kicks a product to look forward to. Let us then get into the details and find out whether it’s the compact crossover you should put your money on or not.

Pros
  • Quality interior: Quality of material, fit & finish inside the cabin is better than other cars in this segment
  • Noise insulation: Engine noise, road noise not as audible inside as in siblings (Captur, Duster, Terrano); lifts cabin experience up
  • Mature ride: The ride is supple, but not bouncy. It can handle small and large road uncertainties at any speeds with aplomb
  • 360-degree parking assist: Cameras at the front, rear, and both sides give an all-around view to ease parking; segment-first feature
Cons
  • Ergonomic issues: Driver’s seat set a little high; particularly uncomfortable for tall drivers. Footwell is too cramped
  • Diesel Low-end drivability: Diesel engine lacks punch at the bottom of the rev range; requires downshifting to pick pace
  • No automatic transmission: Both engines are available with manual transmission only at launch. Automatic transmission with petrol engine is a must for buyers seeking convenience
  • Feature misses: No light for passenger vanity mirror. Top variant misses out on auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, powered driver seat and sunroof

Stand Out Features

  • Automatic air-con: Not a breakthrough feature, but comes standard in Kicks

    Automatic air-con: Not a breakthrough feature, but comes standard in Kicks

  • 360-Degree Parking Assist: Uses 4 cameras to give all-around view while parking

    360-Degree Parking Assist: Uses 4 cameras to give all-around view while parking

  • 8-inch Infotainment System: Wider than competition, looks big

    8-inch Infotainment System: Wider than competition, looks big

  • LED projector headlamps: Offer better visibility than reflector-type halogen headlamps

    LED projector headlamps: Offer better visibility than reflector-type halogen headlamps

CarDekho Verdict

"The Kicks' strengths include its strong presence, premium interiors and comfortable ride quality. But, it could do with some added feel good features and an automatic transmission. Recent price cuts should see it gain favour with more buyers."

The Kicks doesn’t feel big despite being amongst the largest cars in its segment. The cabin doesn’t feel spacious either. There are some ergonomic issues as well that might bother some drivers and it’s not the most well-equipped car too, missing out on features like auto-dimming IRVM and sunroof, both of which would have added immensely to its appeal. And then there’s the absence of automatic transmission.

Considering both the pros and cons leads us to the conclusion that the Kicks is a car for those who are looking for a properly stylish compact SUV. It’s for those who appreciate quality and are either buying an additional smaller (relatively) car for the family or want to upgrade their drive experience from an already premium sub-compact vehicle. 

Exterior

The Kicks’ overall design is funky and it would go well with those who like their car to stand out from the crowd. It’s available in dual-tone exterior colour schemes, and with colours that are bright and youthful. It’s got LED headlamps and position lamps, and these make it look modern. The front-end looks squarish, especially the way the headlamps, bonnet and fog lamps come together. The Nissan V-Motion grille at the front also looks bold. The rear, with those boomerang tail lamps, is unlike any other car you would have seen before in India; it properly stands out.

The Kicks is in no way timid in terms of size, at least on paper. Dimensionally, it’s longer and wider than the Creta. Let’s get it straight, the Nissan Kicks is not an SUV in the traditional sense. It has a long foot print with raked A-Pillars and a prominent overhang which makes it look like a crossover. There’s a dose of black plastic cladding at the lower end all around, again a design element borrowed from SUVs, but seen on cross hatches too.

Dimensions

Nissan Kicks

Hyundai Creta

Renault Captur

Renault Duster

Nissan Terrano

Maruti Suzuki S-Cross

Length (mm)

4384

4270

4329

4315

4331

4300

Width (mm)

1813

1780

1813

1822

1822

1785

Height (mm) (with roof rails)

1656

1665

1626

1695

1671

1595

Wheelbase (mm)

2673

2590

2673

2673

2673

2600

Ground Clearance (mm) (max)

210

190

210

205 (210 AWD)

205

180

Boot (litres)

400

402

392

475 (410 AWD)

475

353

But, if it comes to purpose the Kicks has an important SUV trait -- ride height. Its 210mm of ground clearance and 17-inch wheels give it a purposeful stance. So, if you define road presence with respect to uniqueness of design, the Kicks is a car you should wait for. But if road presence to you is all about squareness, then despite being longer and wider than rivals, the Kicks might not cut it for you.

Interior

Premium would be that one word to best describe the Kicks’ interior. Black-brown interior colour scheme looks elegant to start with. The brown panel on the dashboard and on the doors is done in leather, while the black plastic on the dashboard top is not exactly soft-touch, but feels upmarket. There’s leather finish on the steering and seats too, making the cabin feel rich. The plushness of the cabin is further accentuated because of good noise insulation. The diesel engine clatter inside the Kicks’ cabin is quite muted compared to its siblings. Someone looking for an expensive car experience under Rs 15 lakh should consider the Kicks once it’s launched in January 2019.

Apart from those who appreciate quality, the Kicks will also appeal to those who like their car interior to be cosy. In other words, the Kicks feels quite compact on the inside, good for those who don’t want to get intimidated by the dimensions when driving, but disappointing for those who’d rather prefer a spacious cabin. Blame it on the dark (black) colour scheme.

There are some niggles too. The driver seat, for example, is set a bit on the higher side even in the lowermost position, an issue it shares with its platform cousin, the Captur. Those who’re taller than 5’8” will particularly feel like they're sitting a tad too high. You can push the seat back and tilt the steering lower to get into a good driving position, but then you go farther from the steering, which sadly doesn’t get telescopic adjustment. And no, even if you manage to reach the steering, you still have to deal with another ergonomic issue -- cramped footwell. There’s not enough space for you to rest your foot on the floor on the left of the clutch pedal; you always have to take your foot off and and rest it on floor under the clutch! Tall drivers, don’t forget to test drive before signing the dotted line. And then, there’s no lamp for the passenger-side vanity mirror either.

Its sloping roofline might make you believe that headroom at the rear might be tight, but that isn’t the case. Headroom and legroom at the rear is adequate for adults, however, it feels quite compact. The rear windows are large for a crossover with sloping roofline and the view out is unobstructed. Seating three adults abreast at the rear might be tight, but two adults with a kid should be comfortable. There’s a small fixed headrest on the rear seat for a child in the middle, and the rear AC vents are also ergonomically placed so that they don’t eat up a lot of leg space. That said, the Kicks seems to be a car for those who drive themselves, or have family with growing-up kids, and not for those who will be driven around most of the time.

Performance

The Kicks is powered by the same set of powertrains as the Captur. So it gets a 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engine. The diesel engine, which we got to drive, is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission while the petrol engine comes with a 5-speed manual.

On paper, the diesel engine develops 110PS of maximum power. While it’s not the most powerful engine in its segment, it never felt out of breath even at triple-digit speeds. Cruising at highway speeds should be an easy task for the Kicks then.

However, overtaking or picking up quick pace will require downshifting. The diesel engine makes 240Nm of maximum torque at 1750rpm, but you only make quick progress when the rev counter goes over 2500rpm. The drive pattern will also have to be adjusted when driving in the city. So while it will continue to march forward at 1500+ rpm, picking up quick pace will require dropping gears. The diesel powertrain of the Kicks comes with an ECO mode which dulls down the throttle response and hence was 1.5kmpl more efficient in our city mileage test. 

The Kicks might look sporty and agile on the outside, but its ride is tuned for outright comfort. The suspension easily soaks any small or big undulations at both slow or high speeds. Despite tuned to be on the softer side, the Kicks doesn’t throw its passengers around when negotiating uneven surfaces. The comfortable ride adds to the richness of the cabin and the overall package exudes sophistication comparable to cars from a segment above.

Tested Performance Figures - 1.5D MT
Acceleration
0-100 kmph 12.81 seconds
30-80 kmph (3rd Gear) 7.51 seconds
40-100 kmph (4th Gear) 12.08 seconds
Braking
100-0 kmph 39.20 metres 
80-0 kmph 24.69 metres
Efficiency
City 15.18 kmpl
Highway 20.79 kmpl

Safety

Nissan has not completely revealed the Kicks’ feature set or variant details. We, however, know that only the diesel Kicks will be available in the top variant and not the petrol. In terms of safety, the top-spec Kicks gets ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and four airbags. In comparison, the Creta gets six while the S-Cross only gets two.

360-degree parking assist is one of the highlights and is exclusive to the Kicks in the compact SUV and crossover space. It uses four cameras -- one at the front, one at the rear and one under each ORVM to give an all-round view of the car when reversing into a parking spot.

Other than this, the Kicks gets LED headlamps and DRLs, 17-inch alloy wheels, auto AC (standard feature), cooled glovebox, cruise control, fog lamps with cornering function, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as rain sensing wipers.

The 8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard looks wide. However, it’s not tilted towards the driver and is, therefore, not the easiest to operate when you’re driving.

Compared to the top-spec Creta, the Kicks misses out on convenience features like auto-dimming IRVM, powered driver seat and wireless charger. It also doesn’t get a sunroof, unlike the Creta. A sunroof would have complemented the Kicks’ youthful vibe. Moreover, the Creta doesn’t get LED headlamps and 360-degree parking assist that the Kicks does.

Variants

The Nissan Kicks is available in four variants: XE, XL, XV and XV Premium. The XE diesel was recently introduced in the lineup and is now the most affordable diesel variant you can buy. Also, the top-spec XV Pre Option has now been discontinued but most of its features have now moved onto the one lower XV Pre variant, prices of which have been marginally increased. 

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*Ex-showroom price

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