By T Murrali:
The recently-unveiled Nissan Kicks seems to brighten Nissan Motor India’s hopes as the vehicle comes with many new features that will lure the customers. The new vehicle is specially designed to suit the needs of the Indian SUV consumers and the new age urban adventure seekers. The Kicks in most other markets is based on the same platform as the Micra. But its Indian version, based on an updated version of the M0 platform, inherits Terrano’s tough DNA. The new Kicks is a complete package, with a prudent combination of intelligent technology, premium feel, progressive SUV design and advanced technology.
The new Kicks offers a host of established design signatures and features. The vehicle that looks like a proper SUV with an upright stance has the right mix of curves and design elements leading to LED headlamps, DRL, roof design, the shark fin antenna, door-mounted ORVMs with indicators and front fog lamps. The bold V-motion grille, a signature motif in Nissan’s design language, adds to the vehicle’s distinctive presence. The powerful, wheel-oriented stance is further enhanced by R17 five-spoke machined-alloy wheels. The bold styling with dynamic stance and glamorous fender arch bring out the solidity and elegance in the vehicle while substantial face and back style provide a masculine and rugged presence on the Indian roads. The uniquely designed headlamps and tail lights feature iconic boomerang-shaped LED signature lamps to add character. The fog lamps give light up to 67 degrees wide, while the conventional lamps give only 45 degrees. Kicks has 210mm ground clearance and is 53mm longer and 15mm lower than the Terrano, while maintaining the same wheelbase.
The interiors are done up to give a premium feel. The prime among them is the leather covered panel on the face of the dash. The new ‘wing’ design and floating eight-inch touchscreen are more attractive. The knobs are given carbonfibre weave and the infotainment system is a mix of traditional and modern, having physical controls and touch. When seated inside, the new and attractive 8.0-inch floating touchscreen gives a good feel with its silky smooth operation.
The Kicks has the same powertrains that haul Duster and Captur. It gets a 1.5-litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual and a 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual. As of now there is no automatic option. The drive was smooth, though not as much at lower speeds. The engine gives enough power to an average driver. You can give your right foot some rest with the cruise control feature. But not for the left as there is no dead pedal. This is perhaps due to wider bottom of the centre console, though it has been designed well to appeal to modern customers. The driver can master the hills with ‘Hill Start Assist,’ as it keeps the brake on for some time during steep climbs. You can easily take the foot off the brake and put it on the accelerator. The Eco Mode helps conserve fuel.
During the product presentation, Takashi Hashimoto, Senior VP, Member of the Board, Engineering, Renault Nissan Technology & Business Centre India Private Limited, said the objective of developing Kicks, specifically for India, was to offer an exciting exterior, premium interiors and improved performance along with Nissan’s global technologies. The effect is visible in the less body motion and improved steer feel of the vehicle.
The India model comes with fully-covered door bottom to protect the sill area from dust in all weather conditions. In the conventional set-up it is here where the back of the legs touch during ingress and egress, soiling the clothes. The fully-covered door bottom area in Kicks helps prevent accidental soiling of clothes.
LED projector headlamp for longer range is a big help for night driving. The lamps have improved throw, up to 70 metres, even more than the halogen lamps.. When this correspondent test-drove the vehicle, it was evident that the headlight covered a much wider area without hurting the oncoming vehicles. The quick cooling HVAC with rear vents helps to cool the entire rear area. The roof-rails are aesthetically designed and very functional.
Around View Monitor
A segment first is a 360-degree view when reversing; it is something that will help the driver while parking in tight spots. Called ‘Around View Monitor,’ this technology helps the customers to park the vehicle on narrow roads. It is a big help for customers in India. A support technology, it assists drivers to park more easily by better understanding the vehicle’s surroundings through a virtual bird’s-eye view from above the vehicle. The Around View Monitor helps the driver visually confirm the vehicle’s position relative to the lines around parking spaces and adjacent objects, allowing the driver to manoeuvre into parking spots with more ease. The Around View Monitor processes video from four cameras, displaying the composite footage on the screen as if there is a single birds-eye view camera right above the vehicle. This makes parking much easier.
Through the bird’s-eye view, a driver can check for obstructions around the vehicle. The system can display the bird’s-eye, front and rear views, making it possible to check the vehicle’s 360-degree surroundings simultaneously with either the front or the back. It is possible to display the rear view and front-side views together. A driver can simultaneously check the rear and front-side views of the vehicle, the points of most concern in parallel parking. The four wide-angle cameras set up on the front, back, left and right are the foundations of the Around View Monitor. Video signals from four cameras feed into an image processing unit: The side views showing both left and right; the rear view for showing the back of the vehicle; and a front view camera. These signals are then converted into a composite virtual bird’s-eye top view image as if seen from directly above the vehicle. It is this image processing technology that is the key point in the Around View Monitor.
The body of the vehicle is built with a GRAPHENE (Gravity-philic Energy Absorption) body structure, enabling it to absorb impact energy, making it safer for agile movement on Indian roads.
Yasuhiro Tani, India Design Head, Renault Nissan Technology & Business Centre India Private Limited, said that Kicks is not a typical crossover but a progressive SUV. The focus while developing Kicks for India was to emphasise the elements – proactive, energetic and engaging. While designing the exteriors the company dwelt on sprucing up inner strength, agile robustness and smart performance. According to him the strong-angled A-pillar and stop-angled rear window and floating roof-rail gave a distinctive three-dimensional presence. Kicks is given V-motion grille to enhance the brand symbol. On the interiors, he said the approach was to give the customers smart premium feel and aesthetic robustness. The light and sleek wingspan gives a gliding feel, he said.
“We tried to enhance the wheel-oriented stance to make it as a tough and stronger SUV,” he said. The feel is also enhanced by the three-dimensional massive fenders.
Peter Clissold, VP, Marketing, Nissan Motor India, said, Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) is the brand’s key differentiator in the market. The intelligent mobility technology transforms the car into a more exciting partner. There are three elements to NIM, each benefiting the consumers. Intelligent driving delivers more confidence while intelligent power gives more excitement and intelligent integration delivers more connected world for customers. For the Indian market the new Nissan Kicks delivers on both intelligent driving and intelligent integration with over 50 features. The model will move the market and appeal to a new clientele.
“First of all we wanted to make the advanced cabin with huge interior space. The difference between Kicks and other SUV or crossovers is Kicks’ cabin forward stance that makes the interior longer and more spacious. Due to this the roof is much longer unlike other SUVs and may not appear sporty. Therefore, we added ‘strong angled’ A-pillar and rear window surface. This helped us get not only the sporty feel to the vehicle but also huge interior space. This is our direction,” Tani told AutoParts Asia. Perhaps this is the reason Kicks is about 15mm lower than Terrano. This has also reduced the weight of the roof leading to better centre of gravity.
The roof-rail, Tani said, appears to be floating as its end is not connected to the roof. “From engineering and design point of view it was so difficult to realise. I have tried it many times but the dream came true only with Kicks. It is a first time for us. From the functional point of view, it can carry about 100kg.”
On the quieter cabin, Hashimoto said, “As we wanted to offer premium feel in Kicks, quieter cabin is very important. We tried to improve the quietness by using many materials that absorb noise and vibration. It was not so easy. We have insulated materials in the dashboard area and door-side and this helped in suppressing the noise. The noise levels are down by ten percent compared to the competition.”
On the new technology around view monitor, he said, the company deployed Nissan’s global technology to connect images from four cameras placed around the vehicle. On the strong-angled A-pillar he said, it was not primarily to reduce the drag but for styling. This is because driving is not at high speeds in India unlike in Europe or other advanced markets. Styling is important in India and so the company worked on it, he said.
Overall the Nissan Kicks appears to be a good SUV with contemporary styling. With its feature-rich offerings, specifically designed to lure Indian customers, the vehicle seems to be a strong challenger to the bestselling and currently undisputed segment-leader, the Hyundai Creta.