May 15, 2019

Nissan Kicks - The Intelligent SUV

Words: Aninda Sardar

‘Just Urbane gets behind the wheel of the SUV that is the official partner of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to find out just how good the Nissan Kicks is’

The Nissan Kicks is ‘The Intelligent SUV’ according to the Japanese auto giant. And to back this claim up the company’s website announces a bunch of features, including a 360-degree view camera and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So clearly, Nissan wants you to be kicked about its SUV. Question is, should you be?

Under the skin of the Nissan Kicks
For those of you who don’t know, there are two versions of the Nissan Kicks that exist. The one you get overseas is based on the brand new Nissan Micra platform. This version of the SUV is not on sale in India. The Indian Nissan Kicks is actually built on the extremely successful platform that gave Renault the Duster and Nissan the Terrano. So if you’re looking at the base product minus the body, the styling and the features what you have essentially is a Duster or Terrano.

Which also means you benefit from the ruggedness of the platform and its excellent dynamic characteristics. The other thing that the Nissan Kicks is able to give you on account of being based on an existing platform is peace of mind since its underpinnings are actually tried, tested and proven to be successful. You could of course argue that being based on an existing platform means that all the flaws of the platform would also remain but to be honest the Duster-Terrano platform didn’t really have too many flaws to begin with.

At the heart of the Nissan Kicks
Peek under that sculpted and funky looking bonnet and you’ll find a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Like the platform the engine is the same one that powers the Terrano, Duster as well as the new Renault Captur. Transmission is via a 6-speed manual gearbox that sends 110 horses and 240Nm of torque to the front wheels. There is a petrol engine too that is on offer but you don’t get that for the top-of-the-line XV Pre Option trim level that we had on test.

Inside the Nissan Kicks
Now that all the techno mumbo-jumbo is out of the way, let me tell you two very critical things about the Nissan Kicks’ interiors. First, like on the outside, the SUV is very funky on the inside as well. Second, it’s quite spacious, which is only to be expected because both dimensionally the Nissan Kicks is bigger than its rival the Hyundai Creta as well as its French cousin the Renault Captur.

The layout of the dashboard is clean and uncluttered, which is great because a clean layout always lends itself well to creating a perception of roominess. The leather trim, the stitching and even the plastics used inside the cabin are a cut above what I’ve seen before in the Terrano. Having said that there are a few areas that could certainly be improved upon. For instance, the faux buttons on the steering wheel don’t make any sense. Nor does the lack of a storage unit under the central armrest. That there should be only a single USB port in this day and age also seems a bit of an oversight.

Otherwise, the Nissan Kicks is fairly well equipped and in addition to the 360-degree view camera and the 8-inch touchscreen, there is also cruise control, which comes in very handy on the open highway. The automatic climate control, hill hold assist that prevents the vehicle from rolling back on a slope, rain sensing wipers and auto LED projector headlamps with cornering function also help ease life out.

Nissan Kicks on the move
If you’ve driven the Duster or the Terrano, you’ll be hit with a tremendous sense of déjà vu at the wheel of the Nissan Kicks. The feel of driving this SUV is near identical to the other two. The strong acceleration from the diesel engine and the confidence inspiring dynamics (for an SUV) makes the Kicks an enjoyable vehicle to drive. You can cruise comfortably on straight open highways or have a load of fun cutting through the mountains. Be warned however, if you’re going to put the SUV through some fast cornering manoeuvres then the Nissan Kicks’ steering does have a tendency to kick back that can catch you unaware. In the city, at much slower speeds and on crowded roads, two flaws of the Kicks come to the fore. One, a slightly heavy steering and a clutch that some might feel is a tad heavy. Very honestly, neither was a problem for me but there might be those who might complain. In either case, they’re not deal breakers. Especially when you think that you get the rest of it – the super funky styling, the class-leading features and all the goodness of the highly successful Duster platform can be yours for Rs 14.65 lakh, ex-showroom.

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