The 2018 Nissan Kicks, a compact crossover built and bred for urban life, is just that. It makes no grand illusions about what else it may actually do.
There’s no all-wheel drive or even a fancy engine cover under the hood, nor is there a huge amount of power in that engine. Forget about an optional heated steering wheel. Oh, and there are drum brakes in the rear.
Despite all that, the Nissan Kicks is quite simply an affordable runabout with some attitude – bold looks and a class-exclusive available Bose sound system if you opt for the top trim. The specially designed Bose system includes an amp and eight speakers (two of which are found directly in the driver’s headrest to really give you that premium audio experience).
Tagged one of Canada’s most affordable compact crossovers, the all-new Nissan Kicks might carry a small price tag, but don’t be fooled by the $17,998 entry price. It’s far from cheap when it comes to amenities and design.
Even in top trim, the 2018 Nissan Kicks SR hits below the $23,000 mark, with little in terms of options save for the two-tone roof/body colour combo that will add an extra $150 to the bill. Looking at its competition, that’s inexpensive.
Based on almost the same platform as the Nissan Versa Note – slightly longer by 20 millimetres, with a wider track and body – the Kicks, as with the Micra, was tweaked and tuned to suit Canadian lifestyle and roads. The larger body size means there’s much more room in the Kicks over the Versa Note, with plenty of headroom for all. Two adults can sit comfortably in the rear.
The only gripe was the lack of AWD. However, the Kicks doesn’t claim to be an off-road crossover, just an urbanite with more available interior space and a slightly higher ride height. So, all in all, it delivers as promised.
Nothing more, nothing less.
- Base price/as tested: $17,998/$22,948
- Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder
- Transmission/drive: Automatic/front-wheel
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 7.7 city, 6.6 highway
- Alternatives: Kia Soul, Hyundai Kona, Ford EcoSport, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR
The Nissan Kicks design was a joint effort between Nissan Design America and the new Nissan Design America-Rio studios. The V-Motion grille, floating roofline and two-tone roof/body colour combos are in vogue and again suit the silhouette of the compact crossover.
The amount of space inside the Kicks it’s surprising. And while Nissan boasts about the comfort of their Zero Gravity seats, finding a good seating position when in the driver’s seat proved difficult. The dash of the Kicks is well constructed and the centre stack features contrast stitching and a seven-inch colour display touchscreen that’s easy to navigate. You can either use NissanConnectSM or the optional Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
With a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque, you won’t be winning any drag races. However, Nissan engineers made the Xtronic transmission (a CVT) “shift” like a normally geared car, which doesn’t change the dynamics as much as it changes the experience. The Nissan Kicks handled less-than-stellar Quebec roads smoothly and without much trouble. Imperfections in the road were nearly imperceptible, thanks to a front independent strut, stabilizer bar suspension matched with rear suspension featuring twist beam, stabilizer bar and twin-tube shock absorbers.
Standard tech and safety features you might not expect include emergency braking, forward collision warning, Siri Eyes Free, cruise control, backup camera and Bluetooth. The SR model offers bird’s eye view cameras along with blind spot warning, LED lamps and even remote engine start.
Trunk space is deep and wide with 716 litres of room with the rear seats up and 915 litres when those seats are folded down. There’s no reason why anyone would think this vehicle too small for everyday life. Five persons or four normal-sized adults fit inside.
The verdict: 8.0
The drive is unexpectedly enjoyable and it’s nicely equipped for a low price point.