If there was ever an award for talent but little sales success then Nissan would be up there in India. While the carmaker has a strong lineup in India, sales have simply been drab. The carmaker is now bringing in one of the biggest hits from its strong global SUV panel. When the Kicks finally arrives in India towards the early part of 2019, it will be on a wider and longer body. However, we drove the Middle East version of the car just to get a taste of things to come and sample what could well be the compact SUV of next year.
Nissan has used all its SUV design prowess on the Kicks. The car looks cheeky, urbane and youthful in terms of design language. The car gets a ‘V’ shaped chrome embossed grille up ahead, which we have already seen on the Terrano in India. The strong character line which runs on the sides gives it a meaningful look as well. But the best part is the rear tail lamps, which stretch out onto the boot lid and lend it a sporty theme. Buyers will also like the fact that a plethora of dual tone colour options will be available in India when the Kicks SUV goes on sale in January 2019.
The Indian version will get a seven-inch touchscreen panel for the infotainment and also get digital gauges instead of the analogue dials that our test car had. Nissan says that the quality will also be much better than the Middle Eastern version, so you can expect lots of soft plastics with great texturing and colour combos for the cabin. Overall layout is neat, clean and intuitive to operate. The seats offer decent support and cushioning and the car has ample space inside for four adults. The boot though is of a massive variety and very, very impressive. The square shape ensures that it can take on the biggest loads and there is hardly a loading lip, so big boxes should be easy to heave in.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The 1.6-litre petrol engine pushes out a healthy 125bhp of power. The Kicks also a CVT along with a manual. The other engine option for India will be the 1.5-litre diesel unit from the Terrano/Duster. This engine makes around 110bhp of power and excels at refinement and fuel economy as well. Being successfully tested in the Duster over the years, buyers should easily align themselves for this engine.
The petrol we drove in Dubai offered good linear traction as well and acceleration was more than adequate as well. You can choose a CVT-gearbox on the petrol and we came across impressed with it. The car didn’t feel like a CVT but like a regular AT instead. But we reserve our judgement on overall performance once the India model arrives.
Ride and handling
Typical of most compact SUVs in India, the Kicks also offers a light steering wheel which requires minimum input. It’s a steering which should tire you out. That said, there is decent feel as well and it is very accurate. The ride is supple enough and we enjoyed the high speed stability as well. Though there is a stiff edge to the suspension, it never becomes uncomfortable. We couldn’t find any bad patches of roads in Dubai, so we reserve our judgement on slow city speeds. The final version should have a slightly different tuning on the suspension though.
Overall, the Kicks comes across as a compact SUV with cheeky styling, loads of attitude and generous cabin space. The engine options should give it lots of flexibility in terms of options and Nissan claims best-in-class features too, making it a strong package. If you are in the market for a compact SUV and can wait for a couple of months we’d recommend you check out the Nissan Kicks at a dealership near you once it launches early 2019.