The Nissan Kicks, a compact SUV from the Japanese automaker is all set to launch in India next year during the month of January. It will find its place in the highly lucrative compact SUV segment in India where it will compete against the likes of the current segment leader Hyundai Creta.
The Nissan Kicks is coming to India with two engine options, a 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. And to start with, Nissan is launching this compact SUV in India only with a choice of manual transmission. A 5-speed unit with petrol and a 6-speed unit with the diesel derivative.
We recently got the opportunity to test drive the all-new Nissan Kicks in Bhuj, Gujarat. We drove this new compact SUV for 100 km. This detailed first drive review brings you a complete analysis of what the new Nissan Kicks is all about.
We tell you about this car’s exterior design, interior design, performance, ride quality, handling, comfort and everything else that you need to know about the all-new Nissan Kicks before you make a purchase decision. Let’s get started!
Nissan Kicks India First Drive Review: Exterior Design
Let’s first start with the exterior design of the Nissan Kicks. And as you can see, this car, or rather this SUV looks quite stylish. The design is such that the Kicks can be identified as a Nissan. This is due to the fact that it comes with several signature design elements indigenous to Nissan cars. For instance, up-front you get the signature u-shaped grille.
The bonnet lines gell quite stylishly with the grille. The headlamps look somewhat familiar and we somehow feel that they resemble the ones seen on the Kicks arch-rival to be, the Hyundai Creta.
The exterior design of the Kicks features a generous amount of chrome treatment. As a result of this, the front profile of this compact SUV looks quite attractive. The overall fascia of this vehicle boasts of a macho stance. We would say that the aesthetics a modern as well as sporty.
The fog-lamps, faux skid plates along with the dual-tone grille in black and silver accents is very nicely finished. The side profile of the Nissan Kicks comes with pronounced wheel arches. They look even more accentuated thanks to the black plastic cladding. Nissan has provided the Kicks with silver accents on the side which looks quite sporty.
Thanks to a blacked C-pillar, the Nissan Kicks’s gets a floating roofline. It also comes with silver roof-rails. The 17-inch machine cut alloy wheels look quite stylish and compliment the wheel wells perfectly.
The rear fascia of this car is quite compact and good-looking. Just like the front profile, you see a decent use of chrome here as well. There is ‘Kicks’ branding on the boot-lid as well as on the skid-plate for the boot opening. Overall, from the exterior, this car looks quite good and has a decent road presence thanks to its large dimensions.
Nissan Kicks First Drive Review: Interior Design
Now let’s talk about the interiors of the Nissan Kicks. For entering you get a smart key, which is quite slim and feel very premium to hold. The top-end variant which we were sampling came with a passive keyless entry.
The first thing you are greeted with when you enter this SUV is the premium quality materials which are used all across the cabin. The driver side door pad, for instance, comes with a soft touch, leather sort of materials. It gets good quality plastics and the silver finished door handle feels very premium to operate. Furthermore, in order to keep things interesting, Nissan has given a faux carbon-fibre accent on the area holding the controls for the power windows and ORVM operation.
Once inside the driver’s seat, the first thing you will notice is the unique placement of the vehicle’s engine start-stop button. This is located ahead of the gear selector lever, right below the centre console.
The second thing which you are going to notice is the funky layout of the instrument cluster. It comes ina semi-digital configuration. There are two dials on either side, one if the tachometer while the other acts as rather large fuel-gauge. Sitting on top of both of these is a slim screen acting as the Kicks speedometer. On top of this is a small TFT screen which reads out the various other information related to the vehicle.
The other feature which is quick to grab your attention inside the cabin of the Nissan Kicks is the rather large 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system which comes with a floating design. Positioned slightly above from what you may be used to, this infotainment system comes with Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity. The display is pretty responsive while the sound quality of the speakers is also quite adequate.
This infotainment system also doubles up as the screen for the reverse parking camera. And in a segment first, also shows you a 360-degree video feed of the car’s exterior when the gear selector is in reverse. The feed is projected on the screen with the help of four cameras mounted on the outside of the vehicle.
In addition to the premium quality materials used, the dashboard also comes with soft-touch leather trim. The materials used in the centre, as well as the air-side air-con vents, looks very premium.
The Nissan Kicks comes with a fully-automatic climate control unit. The design of the control module is somewhat similar to what we have seen on the Renault Capture. The operation of these dials along with the controls for the infotainment system as well as other switchgear is very positive.
The Nissan Kicks also comes with a day-night IRVM. However, its operation is manual and not automatic as you will find in some of its competition. Another feature missing from the Kicks portfolio is the availability of a sun-roof. Also, there is no specific compartment for storing your sunglasses.
The glove box of this compact SUV is rather small. We see intrusion from what seems like the car’s fuse box. This is primarily because of the fact that this vehicle was configured to right-hand drive from left-hand drive configuration.
Now talking about the seats of the Nissan Kicks, they do offer very good bolster support and side support. Finished in leather, their overall touch and feel are very premium. The seats are well cushioned and comfortable, however, there is scope for improvement when it comes to their under-thigh support.
The rear seats of the Nissan Kicks, just like the front ones, are quite comfortable. They offer an ample amount of leg-room as well as an ample amount of head-room as well. The windows offer a decent view outside thanks to a large glass area and you do not feel claustrophobic.
The rear seats come with adjustable headrests while in the middle you get a foldable armrest with two cup-holders. The front central armrest mounts the rear air-convents. The shoulder room in the seats is good for two passengers. However, sitting a third person might be a tight squeeze.
The boot capacity of the Nissan Kicks stands at 400-litres. The shape of the boot is almost a square which helps to swallow in luggage quite easy. The loading lip is also not very high and hence making its a breeze for loading in heavy items. The boot comes with several ergonomic features such as a small lamp and two tethering points to hook stuff into.
Nissan Kicks First Drive Review: Performance and Handling
With this, now let’s talk about the performance, handling and ride quality of the Nissan Kicks. After driving this compact SUV on the highway as well as the rough-road condition we can say that the engine and transmission are very well tuned for Indian driving conditions.
We got to sample the 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine, the same unit which we see on some of the other cars made by Nissan as well as Renault. It comes with a 6-speed manual transmission which feels butter-smooth. The engine has a rather strong low-end and will not ask you for frequent downshifts.
However, you might find inadequate power if you are at the very bottom of the rev range. Even then, the engine will not stall or judder, rather pick-up pace gradually. This makes this engine a boon for commuting if bumper to bumper city driving conditions.
Due to the strong mid-range, the highway performance of this engine is also very good. In terms of drivability and handling, you will observe a similar behaviour as seen on the Nissan Terrano or the Renault Duster. This is primarily because of the fact that the Kicks shares its underpinnings and suspension components with these two SUVs.
Driving at high speeds the Kicks feels quite pliant and the ride quality is quite good. The overall driving dynamics of this vehicle resemble that of a car rather than an SUV. Even the steering feedback is quite positive. The brakes offer the required bite and hence this vehicle feels very sure-footed under heavy braking.
Nissan Kicks First Drive Review: Verdict
So how should we sum up the all-new Nissan Kicks? Well, it does look quite stylish, it drives well, offers an impressive feature list while at the same time is quite comfortable to be in. That said, it does have to compete with some of the well-established players in the compact SUV segment like the Hyundai Creta. That said, individually, the Kicks in itself is a very good car. All it boils down to are the prices which will be announced during the month of January. If Nissan keeps the prices competitive, who knows we might end up with an all-new king of the compact SUV segment in India.