2018 Nissan Kicks

Where is the kick?



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 17 Sep 2018

By James Park


   They say ‘beauty is in the eye of a beholder.’ Even so, this writer counts himself among the majority of people who would hesitate to put the dearly departed Nissan Juke up on a pedestal as a shining example of automobile pulchritude.

   Nonetheless, styling-wise, the Juke – especially in the Nismo guise – had a bucket full of character oozing out of its pores. Love it or hate it, there’s no mistaking it for anything else.

   Now, the folks at Nissan Canada are adamant that the new 2018 Kicks is not a replacement for the Juke. Still, this new ‘pseudo’ crossover does seem to occupy the space vacated by the previous owner at the bottom of Nissan’s utility lineup.

   I say ‘pseudo’ because no matter the trim level, the Kicks’ option list does not mention AWD anywhere. Many Canadian customers might be put off by this glaring omission.

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For enthusiasts, even more disappointing is the unavailability of the turbocharged mill found under the Juke’s hood that kicked out (I couldn’t resist) 188 horses.

   For the Kicks, the only engine available is the 1.6 litre naturally aspirated four rated at measly 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. However, thanks perhaps to the lack of an AWD system, the vehicle’s weight is kept at a svelte 1,215 kg (2,678 lb) and it moves ahead without too much trouble.

   Compared to the Juke, the Kicks comes across as much more generic design tasked with pleasing a lot bigger segment of customers. It is also longer and wider than the Juke for more interior volume and rear passenger legroom. It is an inexpensive, practical and fuel-efficient urban utility vehicle for the Millennials who do not necessarily crave V8 rumble and tire-vaporizing power as we baby-boomers.

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   What the young people hanker for, however, is connectivity and the Kicks satisfies with both Apple Carplay and Adroid Auto. In fact, the Kicks, for its price-point, provides an impressive list of technology and safety features including blind-side monitoring, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-view camera and the intelligent around-view monitor.

   Furthermore, the top-of-the-line SR trim wows the crowd with 8-speaker Bose audio system that hides two speakers inside the driver’s headrest for not too shabby surround-sound effect.

   Aimed at younger people, the Kicks is relatively affordable with the base S trim starting from $17,998, which is among the cheapest in its class. The mid-level SV starts the count at $20,898 and the SR from $22,798. The SR test-vehicle loaned to this writer has the $450 two-tone paint option to pull the price up to $23, 248 before taxes and other mandatory fees.

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   Sharing the platform with the sub-compact Versa, the front-wheel drive Kicks is adequately maneurable and is comfortable over small bumps. Thanks to the small four-cylinder motor, the car also gets decent fuel mileage of 7.7 litres per 100 km of regular juice in city and 6.6 litres on highway.

   At the end of the day, the Kicks is an inoffensively attractive vehicle that will satisfy most urban customers with their daily commuting needs. The lack of AWD is not really a concern if one considers the fact that set of good winter tires is more effective on snow. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

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2018 Nissan Kicks SR

Price: $22,798

Engine: 1.6 litre four

Power: 125 hp/115 lb-ft

Transmission: CVT

Drive: FWD

Fuel: 7.7 litres per 100km (city), 6.6 litres (highway)

Best: relatively inexpensive, Bose audio

Worst: no AWD

Competition: Kia Soul, Ford Ecosport

 

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