New compact crossover joins Nissan SUV family
Small crossover shoppers can now consider a brand new contender with the introduction of the Nissan Kicks this summer. The diminutive CUV joins an already robust lineup featuring the Qashqai, Rogue, Murano and others aimed at young urbanites looking for a quirky, high-tech and fuel-efficient vehicle to get them around town.
Are you thinking, “Hey, this model looks familiar?” That’s because you might have seen an early version of it a few years back. “This vehicle was actually designed quite a few years ago and called the Brazilian Kicks Concept, a joint project between [Nissan Design American based in] San Diego and the [satellite] Rio studio, shown at the 2014 São Paulo International Motor Show. The theme really represented the fun and vibrancy of Brazil’s Carnival,” says Scott Pak, senior product planning manager for Nissan Canada, during the Canadian media drive in Montreal where we were in attendance.
While the car has all the usual contemporary Nissan design cues – V-Motion grille, boomerang lights and the blacked out A, B and C pillars creating the illusion of a floating roof – there’s a little more fun injected. The CUV can be purchased (additional $150, SV trim and above) in one of five different contrasting colour combinations that are guaranteed to turn a few heads, such as a bright Monarch Orange roof on a Gun Metallic body that my driving partner and I piloted for a couple of hours.
Likewise in the cabin, the good times continue. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the stereo, because how can you have a fun city car without some “Kick’in” tunes? The manufacturer distributed USB drives containing hand-picked songs spanning a variety of genres to show off the available Bose Personal Plus sound system. Using only eight speakers, Bose promises “360 degrees of immersive sound,” the key being a pair of uniquely placed speakers inside the driver’s seat head restraint. Apply CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported.
A few highlights unusual for the segment are thrown in free of charge: a flat bottom steering wheel, although you’ll want to go for the leather option to avoid sporty-looking plastic, collision mitigation in the form of intelligent emergency braking, and automatic headlights. Nissan’s excellent Intelligent Around View Monitor birds-eye camera costs extra.
So what makes the vehicle great for city dwellers? The seven-inch ground clearance and tight turning radius helps navigate the concrete jungle with ease; the ergonomic “Zero Gravity” seats reduce fatigue while stuck in traffic and feature a high seating position for ideal visibility; and 716 litres of storage space behind the second row allows room for all kinds of gear. Roomy five passenger accommodation means none of your friends will be left stranded.
The Kicks is powered by a peppy 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine mated to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission. The 125 horsepower is decent for moving the relatively lightweight 1,215-kilogram crossover around, although I would have liked to see a manual gearbox offered, as it is on the Qashqai, for the few of us still around who enjoy shifting ourselves. Approximately fuel economy is rated at an excellent 7.1 L/100 km in combined city and highway driving.
Three grades are offered – the S is priced at $17,998 and includes plenty of standard equipment as we discussed above. The SV for the price of $20,898 adds heated front seats and side mirrors, push button start, 17 inch alloy wheels and SiriusXM satellite radio. The top-of-the line SR is $22,798 and bundles in Bose audio, orange-stitching and roof rails.
Motor: 1.6-litre four cylinder
Horsepower: 125 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 115 @ 4,000 rpm
Layout: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 7.1 L/100 km mixed city/highway (manufacturer estimate)