2017 Nissan Kicks

Does everything it's destined to do

"Kicking the Juke out of the game?" said Issam.

"There's something distinctive about its design and finishing."

"Kicks is equipped with some cool gimmicks."

"Kicks has a pretty upfront and neat-looking cabin."

Kicks is the new designation Nissan has allocated to the growing SUV B-segment market. Will it truly 'kicks' some competitors' butts? Primarily it will kick the Nissan Tiida Hatchback out of the game from the whole Middle East. And, it seems that Nissan Juke won't be available around the GCC either. As Nissan execs informed us, the Nissan Kicks will replace both Tiida Hatchback and Juke. You can still get a Juke if you are in Lebanon. What's the main reason? Well, because both Tiida and Juke might cannibalize the Kicks' sales and they don't want to confuse their customers at their showroom.

The all-new Nissan Kicks was first rolled out in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympics held there, and is poised to add a whole new dimension to the compact end of the crossover field in more than 80 countries.

Exterior
The newcomer is aimed squarely at urban driving environments and combines a robust exterior and elevated driving position with compact dimensions for agile performance and maneuverability. The body features an advanced aerodynamic design, which optimizes fuel consumption and minimizes noise.

In terms of its visual appeal, Kicks features established Nissan design signatures such as the V-motion grille, which dominates the car's front end. Also present are the boomerang head and taillights, and the "floating" coupe-style roof with a "wrap-around visor" look to the windscreen and side glass.
Underlining the car's crossover stance and inherent strength is its generous ground clearance (200mm), which helps provide a commanding driving position and a high eye point for excellent all round visibility.

High-tech features
Kicks is also one of the first models to realize the concept of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, initially presented at the Geneva Auto Show in 2016. Nissan Intelligent Mobility uses smart, relevant technology to make the driver's life easier while also making advances towards Nissan's long-term goal of zero emission and zero fatality motoring. Nissan Kicks targets young people who are early adopters of such technology and who appreciate and embrace the way it can both simplify urban driving and connect them more easily to what matters. The Intelligent Mobility technology present in Kicks aims to reduce stress for drivers through innovations such as the Around View Monitor (AVM) and the Moving Object Detection system (MOD).

Using four cameras, placed at the front and rear of the car and in both door mirrors, AVM creates a bird's eye 360-degree view of the car, which can be displayed on the central monitor and used as a parking aid.

When the MOD system detects a moving object - a pedestrian, for example - a warning is sounded to alert the driver to the hazard and prevent a potential accident.

Infotainment System
Technology-loving Kicks owners will relish the convenience and simplicity of the suite of systems that are accessible via the centrally mounted 7-inch color touchscreen. These functions include navigation, audio, and Bluetooth phone connections. Complementing the touchscreen, and ideally located in front of the driver, a further screen in the main cluster of dials relays information from the onboard drive computer, audio system and navigation systems, as well as displaying warnings. Vehicle settings can be easily adjusted using the four-way selector on the steering wheel.

Drivetrain
Among a host of comfort and safety technologies included in Kicks, its chassis control, supported by advanced electronic systems known as Active Trace Control, Active Ride Control and Active Engine Brake, is a truly outstanding feature.

Active Trace Control is an innovation that intervenes during driving through corners to ensure the intended trajectory is maintained by discreetly applying brakes to wheels individually. This has the effect of preventing a sudden loss of grip or stability.

Similarly, Active Ride Control applies the brakes for a split-second after the car has encountered large undulations in the road, to reduce the "bounce" effect on the suspension. This simple, effective solution is lighter and less complex than expensive and heavy adaptive damping systems.

To counter the "coasting" effect often associated with automatic and CVT gearboxes, Kicks is equipped with Active Engine Brake. When the accelerator is released (typically approaching a corner), engine braking is applied to stabilize the speed.

Nissan Kicks has class-leading fuel efficiency thanks to its advanced 1.6-liter engine and lightweight platform. Power is rated at 118 horsepower and a torque of 149 Nm.

Interior
The spacious interior is instantly recognizable as a Nissan design due to the "gliding wing" shape stretching the width of the dashboard.

Driving impressions
We landed in Dubai for the first regional launch of the Kicks. We cruised around Dubai Creek, Jumeirah beach and so on. That's our favorite city to test the new vehicles. We got used to it surely. And how does the Nissan Kicks drive?

First of all, the crossover is based on the same V-platform that underpins the Micra and the Sunny. Nevertheless, this architecture is somewhat tweaked for the crossover and it gets a freshly designed rear twist beam.

Secondly, it drives quite smoothly on highways and around the city. For such an entry-level in the crossover segment, the Kicks has a tolerable amount of body roll (which is quite normal), but it's never going to reward you with an unforgettable drive.

Verdict
At some point I liked the Kicks more than the Juke. It looks solid in terms of design and will surely attract different buyers who were not fascinated by the funky design of the Juke. It is pretty affordable for the options you get and that's the main thing Nissan was aiming for. Prices in the GCC start at USD $15,300 for the S grade, USD $16,700 for the SV grade and USD $18,600 for the SL grade (the fully equipped one).

Pros: Ride quality, interior equipment, price tag, exterior design, spacious cabin
Cons: Audible engine noise when pushed hard, two tone colors not brought to our region
Rivals: Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Creta, Chevrolet Trax, Kia Soul, Renault Captur
4 stars
one word: does everything

Specs
1.6L, inline-4, 118 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 149 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
FWD, CVT X-Tronic
0-100 km/h: 12 sec, top speed: 175 km/h, fuel consumption: 11.4 L/100 km
Weight: 1,142 kg

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