What is it?Right, this can be a bit confusing so let me clear something up \— there are two Nissan Kicks. One is the crossover sold in international markets, and the other one is what you see here ie. the Kicks that will be sold in India. They share a name and have similar styling, but they are very different cars underneath. The international Kicks is based on the Micra\’s platform, while the Kicks in India is based on the same M0 platform that the Nissan Terrano and Renault Duster get. There\’s a difference in dimensions and space, and even equipment levels between the international and our indigenous Kicks.
Wait, why different platforms?A number of reasons. The most obvious would be cost \— the Terrano\’s platform is properly localised and using it will keep costs in check. The second is that Nissan\’s market research showed them that Indians like their cars big and spacious. The international Kicks, being based on a smaller platform, would not have allowed them as much room to play with as this one does. There are also very specific things that a large demographic like the Indians like in contrast to a more generic global market. So they\’ve essentially taken the greatest hits of all the features that Indians like, and compiled them in to the Kicks. Okay, so is it just a Terrano in fancy clothing?Yes, and no. The underpinnings are the same, so it sits on the same platform and runs the same engines. You\’ve got the 1.5-litre petrol that makes 104.5bhp and 142Nm, and a 1.5-litre turbo diesel that makes 108bhp and 240Nm. There isn\’t an automatic on offer at the moment, though. The petrol is hooked up to a 5-speed manual and the diesel gets a 6-speed manual. The Duster that shares this platform and drivetrain gets an AMT, but Nissan is known for their CVTs so could they develop one for this SUV in the future? On paper, it may seem like they\’ve just reworked the Terrano but it feels fairly different to drive.
Different? How?A number of reasons. The engine for starters. The K9K engine has a few very distinct characteristics \— it has slight lag under 2000rpm, a sudden surge in torque when the turbo lights up and can get fairly noisy. However, it feels slightly retuned in the Kicks. While there is still some lag, the build-up of torque is more linear as the turbo kicks (no pun intended) in giving you slightly smoother acceleration. There is plenty of torque on offer and it never feels underpowered. The cabin of the Kicks is also much better insulated than the Terrano\’s and this reduces NVH levels considerably. The ride quality is something else that has improved. The suspension set up may be the same as the Terrano\’s but it has been retuned specifically for this SUV. It flattens bad roads with real poise and keeps you comfortable inside the cabin. Where the Terrano would find itself a little out of its comfort zone at really high speeds, the Kicks stays flat and composed. Over undulating surfaces that would unsettle a lot of cars and cause them to bounce up and down, the Kicks\’ damping keeps it controlled and never feels untoward.
But a lot of it is similar too?The steering is heavy, and though it feels a bit vague, it turns the car in with vigour. It still has that kickback when you get enthusiastic with it, though. It corners well for a car its size. The clutch, though better than the first Duster, still has a certain amount of heft to it. If you close your eyes and drive it (I do not advocate this even slightly), it feels like a familiar SUV that has been honed into something even slightly more refined. It looks\… different.Yes, it does\\! Nissan has done a great job of packaging the Kicks\’ styling on this platform. The platform is inherently larger than the original\’s and so everything needed a redesign to keep the proportions and stance in check. They worked extensively to make it look contemporary working around the template they have. In terms of its silhouette, it isn\’t a hardcore SUV \— it\’s got a hint of crossover in there. The lines aren\’t tall and boxy but more flowing. Take the bonnet, for example, it is short and slopes downwards, the LED projector headlamps are sleek and swept back and the C-pillar is sharply raked forward to add to that sleeker stance. It\’s got plenty of Nissan signatures like the V-motion grille grabbing centre stage at the front. However, I think the smartest angle for this car is the rear three-quarters. The taillamps look sharp and the floating roof with some cool looking roofrails make it look properly contemporary.
The interiors look neat too.Oh yes, there are a good mix of materials being used here \— soft touch leather on the dash, metal on the steering wheel and on a few knobs. There\’s a bit of carbonfibre inspired plastics in a couple of places too. The steering wheel looks great with three-spoke design. Right at the centre of it all is the 8-inch infotainment display that can hook up to your phone via Bluetooth, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The floating display looks great \— resolution is crisp and it is pretty easy to hook your phone up to and use. The touch is sensitive and the colours are great. The interiors get a nice-looking brown and black dual-tone theme, something that really makes the Kicks look global. The interior is far beyond anything Nissan has sold in India so far (GT-R aside, duh). The cabin is slightly flawed though. For starters, the driver\’s seat is placed fairly high at its lowest height setting. This was a mild annoyance to me as I like sitting low in the car, but someone taller than 6 feet tall has their head a mere inch or two from the roof. Shorter people should have no problem though, and especially so if they like sitting high up for a better view of the road. Then there is no dead pedal. There isn\’t even space a few inches to the left of the clutch pedal to place your foot, you\’ve got to pull it back once you\’re done shifting. The storage space is a bit limited too. You\’ve got one large bin in the centre console, ahead of the gearknob. However, there isn\’t so much as a tray under the handbrake to place a phone and the centre armrest is fixed with no storage inside it. You do get a large bottle holder in the door, but the centre is really missing some more storage.
What kit is it packing?The Kicks is actually packing some really cool tech. You\’ve got Nissan Connect, which is a telematics system that is constantly monitoring a number of parameters on the car and sending you updates to your smartphone. It enables a lot of features including service reminders, geofencing, tow-away alerts and car tracking. It also monitors the health of vitals like the engine, battery and brakes showing up alerts if things go wrong. It also gets a 360-degree camera \— a segment first \— that is hugely useful when reversing in to and out of tight spots. The variant we drove also had rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps. A lot of people will bemoan the lack of a sunroof, especially now since its rival, the Creta gets one. But that aside, it has enough kit to keep you entertained. Cruise control and hill start assist definitely make driving easier. Right, so yay or nay?The Nissan Kicks really checks a lot of the right boxes. It drives well, has decent level of equipment and looks great. Nissan are really counting on the Kicks to turn its fortunes around in India. The SUV space is booming, and the Kicks has the potential to do well. It all comes down to how Nissan prices it. They\’re going to have to pitch it aggressively against the Creta, and that means undercutting it variant for variant by a fair bit. We expect prices between Rs 10-13 lakh for the diesel that we have driven, and if Nissan can manage that, they could eat up a bit of the Creta\’s pie.
Specs\: Engine\: 1461cc, turbo diesel, 110Ps @ 3850rpm, 240Nm @ 1750rpm, 6MBoot space\: 400 litresGround clearance\: 210mmLxWxH\: 4384x1813x1656mmWheelbase\: 2673mmFuel capacity\: 50 litresTurning radius\: 5.2mVerdict\: Familiar underpinnings in a smart, new package that has the potential to do wellRating\: 7/10