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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Extensively updated Nissan Kicks arrives in Japan, but will again miss South Africa

Kicks adopts Nissan’s new e-Power mild-hybrid powerunit made up of a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery.

With the introduction of the Magnite delayed until January next year, Nissan has taken the wraps off of the restyled Kicks in Japan, which will for now retain its position as the marque’s entry-level SUV.

Unveiled in Thailand last month, and also one of the models teased in Nissan’s recent future product line-up video, the introduction of the Kicks in its home market rates as the second variation of a model that will eventually be offered in South America, the United States and India, albeit with different drivetrains and specification to suite each.

On the styling front, the Kicks, which debuted four years ago, boasts Nissan’s latest V-motion grille, but with a single-piece sweptback LED headlight design compared to the two-piece layout of the Juke and new X-Trail. A redesigned front bumper, alloy wheel sizes up to 17-inches and restyled LED taillights rounds the changes off. More aggressive than the model it replaces, the Kicks continues to ride on the V-platform used by the Micra and measures 4 290 mm in overall length with a wheelbase of 2 620 mm, height of 1 610 mm and width of 1 760 mm.

Tipping the scales at 1 350 kg, the interior benefits from a new, but optional, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment in place of the standard seven-inch system, a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster display and digital rear-view mirror, plus a redesigned gear lever and a two-tone Orange Tan/Pure Black finish.

Offering a claimed luggage capacity of 423-litres with the rear seats up, the Kicks also comes with Nissan’s ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system for the first time, as well as a surround-view camera plus Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Underneath its bonnet, the Kicks follows in the wheel tracks of the Note by adopting Nissan’s new e-Power mild-hybrid powerunit made up of a normally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine, which also acts as a charger for the 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Paired to a CVT, the combined output is rated at 95kW/260Nm with Nissan claiming a consumption figure of 4.6 L/100 km. Somewhat surprisingly, the Kicks won’t be offered with four-wheel-drive due to the presence of the e-Power system. Drive therefore goes to the front wheels only with four modes featuring; EV, Eco, Normal and Sport.

In Japan, only a single trim level will be offered; X with or without the two-tone finish, which extends to the exterior where four hues are available. The standard palette consists of nine colours. For the standard X, pricing starts at ¥2 759 900 (R448 555) with the two-tone retailing from ¥2 869 900 (R466 433).

Outside of Japan, the Kicks will more than likely the ditch e-Power drivetrain and continue with a normally aspirated 90kW/156Nm 1.6-litre petrol, although in India, the pre-facelift model become available last month with the Nissan-Daimler co-developed 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine as part of a model refresh.

Producing 115kW/254Nm, it joined the normally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol rated at 77kW/142Nm in an all-petrol line-up after the 80kW/240Nm 1.5 dCi oil-burner fell victim to the stringent BS6 emissions regulations. Both these units are expected to be carried over into the facelift model.

In spite of its right-hand-drive availability, Nissan South Africa reaffirmed last year that the Kicks won’t be touching down on local shores despite it being “under study”.

“There is a guise of Kicks available in some Eastern markets, but it is not the same spec and the driving conditions in countries such as India are completely different than ours, so [although] there is a right-hand-drive Kicks, it is not optimised for South African conditions,” Media Relations Manager Veralda Schmidt said.

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