Nissan is known for making SUV’s that are tough, reliable and superb to drive. When the invite arrived to drive the all #NewNissanKicks at the Rann of Kutch, it was a perfect way to kick-start the Christmas Festivities. This is a SUV that has made a mark worldwide, a car which lots of people in India are waiting for.

COLLAGE 1.jpgSo what is the Kicks all about…

In other markets around the world, the Nissan Kicks is based on the same platform as the Micra. In India it is more Duster like in its DNA, based on an updated version of the MO platform. The Kicks has a tall upright cabin, tough body cladding with a 2 toned orange and silver paint scheme. This adds to the tough and macho allure it is going for. A SUV that means business and is ready for the rough and tumble of driving on Indian roads. Lots of work locally has gone into the design, to make it more edgy and robust. Starting with the sleek projector headlamps, the V-shaped grille, the 17-inch diamond cut alloys which are amongst the best in this category, sharp looking tail lamps, black pillars this is one impressive looking SUV. In terms of size, the Kicks is larger than most cars in its segment.COLLAGE 3.jpgThe interiors of the Kicks are top notch and high quality. The brown leather cladding with white stitching, brushed silver accents with quilting on the leather seats are all premium. There’s a brand new impressive.8.0-inch floating touchscreen which performs smoothly. The speedometer is digital with a nicely built steering wheel. There’s an elbow rest which is placed quite awkwardly and can be a hindrance at times while shifting gears.COLLAGE 4.jpgThe upright seating position is excellent in terms of visibility. The driver and co-driver’s seats are broad, lots of support is available on these cross-stitched leather seats. The steering wheel can be adjusted for rake but not reach. An essential feature missing is a dead pedal which is important when driving long distances.

The rear cabin is easy to get into and out courtesy wide doors. The space in the back is good with lots of headroom and adequate knee room. 3 people behind becomes comfortable, courtesy the seat width and flat floor. The Kicks offers a dual-operable parcel shelf which can be opened from inside to access the 400-litre boot.  COLLAGE 5.jpgThere is 360-degree camera (very useful in our traffic), leather dashboard inserts and an Eco driving mode on offer. Also available is four airbags, climate control, hill-hold, cornering lights & the rain sensing wipers. The lack of a sunroof doesn’t matter too much.

The Kicks comes with the latest Nissan Connect. As a part of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, it transforms this SUV into a more responsive partner. It works round-the-clock to provide the best-in-safety, security and convenience by keeping the owner connected to Nissan, the car, to his/her family and loved ones through India’s first factory- fitted Telematics Control Unit (TCU) with a secured server.

With 50+ Features and 3 years of Free Subscription, the Connect is extremely useful for a Kicks SUV owner. I got to experience the features available on the Connect during this drive and came back impressed.COLLAGE 7.jpgI have driven quite a few of Nissan cars down the years and have always liked the driving dynamics and performance of their cars. The Kicks comes with a 1.5 litre diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual. The 1.5 petrol engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual. The diesel puts out 110hp with 240nm of torque. This is a tried and tested engine which has been seen before. Start the car, put it into gear and one is greeted with a smooth pickup. Going through the gears is very smooth and acceleration is extremely refined. I drove the car in the evening on the first day over almost 100 kms. Driving the Kicks over good roads in sparse traffic conditions was a pleasure. Overtaking on these narrow 2 lane highways in the night was quite a breeze, courtesy the mid-range performance of the car. The ride quality on offer is top notch as the suspension has been tuned specifically for our roads. Potholes weren’t too much of a bother during the drive.

Which brings me to the handling of the SUV. Throw it into corners, drive fast and straight the Kicks handles all with aplomb and ease. The braking power is good and coming to sudden stops is tackled easily.COLLAGE 6.jpgThe Kicks is a very capable and secure SUV which ticks all the right boxes in terms of performance and drivability.

Nissan has got a lot riding on the reception and success of the Kicks. They have brought a good looking, tough SUV which performs, handles and drives very well.The price and launch are scheduled for Jan 2019. If they get that right, then Nissan has a winner on hands.COLLAGE 2