The SUV kickstarts its TURBOCHARGED journey with a weekend drive
I have driven my share of cars but there havebbeen some that have eluded me. Like the Nissan Kicks for example. So when it entered the garage, I had to have a go at it. After all the Nissan Kicks seemed to have a lot of potential, on paper at least.
Pictures don’t do justice to the mid-size SUV. It cuts a rather handsome silhouette, especially the rear section with the sharply raked windscreen and edgy tail lamps. The all-around body cladding, plastic skid plates, chunky 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails give the Kicks a rugged look. It is longer, taller and wider than its Korean rivals too which gives it significant road presence. The wider stance also mean that the Kicks does not have a compact footprint like its rivals. That and the wide mirror stalks mean I have to be extra careful while navigating narrow bylanes. It is not much of an effort to park it though, thanks to the 360-view camera.
The wider dimensions also translate to more cabin space. The seats are wide and comfortable too. However, I feel the interiors look dated especially the buttons for the AC controls and on the steering wheel. The extra stalk for the phone and music controls feel like an afterthought. I am not a fan of the digital display either. With the competition being equipped with crisp displays, this one looks like it belongs to an entry-level hatchback.
It is quite feature packed with some interesting features to boot. Like the keycard for example. It allows you to remotely start the car via a series of complicated manoeuvres. The eight-inch touchscreen includes features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto besides the Nissan Connected Car technology which I plan to check out soon.
The 400-litre boot is large enough to swallow big suitcases and the wide loading lip means you can easily load large boxes in there.
Our long-term Kicks uses a turbo-petrol powertrain mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The 1.3-litre turbo-petrol unit is a powerful one, pushing out 156PS and 254Nm. You do feel some lag in city traffic but once the turbo spools up, acceleration is quite impressive. It is quite the guzzler though and during my city commutes, the fuel efficiency readout hovered around 11kmpl. Also the heavy clutch and steering are a downer. Driving the Kicks in traffic is not that enjoyable given the heavy controls and the need to downshift quite a bit in traffic.
Where the Kicks impressed was on the weekend drive around Pune. The ride is quite absorbent and you don’t have to slow down much on bad roads though sharp ruts elicit a sharp kickback through the steering wheel. Despite being front-wheel drive, the 210mm ground clearance and 16-inch alloy wheels allowed me to go off the road with ease and without the worry of scraping the underbelly or bumpers.
Overall, the Nissan Kicks feels like a proper SUV owing to its size, spacious cabin, ground clearance and powerful motor. I look forward to stretching its legs with an inter-city run soon.