The Nissan Kicks sits smack, bang in the middle of the mid-size SUV space – the only segment in the Indian market that’s continuing to see sales growth in an otherwise depressed market. So, you wouldn’t blame Nissan for having high hopes for their latest model. But, thus far at least, the Kicks has failed to make the impression that Nissan had hoped it would.
The Kicks shares its underpinnings with the Renault Duster and Captur, but you have to give credit to Nissan for making their version unique and appear more premium than its French siblings. The interior quality, features, and equipment, as well as the funky exterior, are all elements that work in its favour.
On top of that, it’s a very practical car – it’s quite spacious and the faux-leather seats are very comfortable. The Kicks is powered by Renault-Nissan’s tried-and-tested 1.5-litre diesel engine that’s rated at 108bhp and 240Nm of torque. The initial lag notwithstanding – the Achilles heel of this engine – it has a very strong and linear power delivery. The 6-speed gearbox has short ratios for the first four cogs, meaning that the speed builds quite enthusiastically.
Then there’s the ride and handling – the Kicks is simply brilliant in this department. The ride quality is among the best in its segment, while the handling, too, is very good. The hydraulic steering adds actual feel to the overall driving experience, and its high-speed stability is really impressive.
But there’re a few things that aren’t right. While the interior is packed with features, the plastic quality could be better. The steering may provide great feedback, but Nissan hasn’t been able to remove the intense steering kickback that’s associated with the Duster and Captur. And I must say that this is unforgivable, as it can be very unnerving when you hit an undulation or a pothole mid-corner. Then there’s the pricing, which is dangerously close to that of the Hyundai Creta.
So, the Kicks has a lot going for it, but it needed more competitive pricing – and it certainly needed to get rid of its steering kickback habit – before it could be a real contender.