August 31, 2022 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2022 Nissan Kicks VL e-POWER

The Surprise Foot in the Nads

By the time you read this follow-up review on Nissan’s astonishing all-new Kicks E-Power subcompact crossover, you may already feel oversaturated with information. And you would be mostly right to think so in the sense that the experiences and the results of testing from all our media colleagues have been very consistent, the Kicks is a really great and relevant mobility solution that we all wish we had sooner. The enthusiasm and hype are totally justified. Yet I think I can give you our dear readers just a bit more to data to further reinforce how fabulous the Kicks is and what it represents for our market.

Our first experience with the Nissan Juke replacement was back in 2018 in preparation for its launch in 2019 in the North American market. We already felt then that the 1st generation Nissan Kicks was a much better vehicle than the model it replaced. In place of the overall avant-garde design of the Juke, the more modest design of the Kicks still had the festive spirit but used more conventional techniques in its application. The 1st generation Nissan Kicks had more packaging and color/material customization opportunities to make it attractive. 

“The Juke has been a universally very successful model for Nissan but it has been around since late 2010. We enjoyed every 1.6-liter turbocharged model we tested in North America, especially the Nismo and Nismo RS models over the years. Our Philippine domestic models, however successful as well, did not ever get the force-fed engines. So, to compare the all-new Kicks model to the Philippine market Juke model head-to-head, the new model is a resounding step up in all parameters. Nissan’s clear priority with the Kicks is to produce a practical crossover that is affordable, efficient, spacious, and feature-rich. The Kicks uses a wheelbase that is 3.5-inches longer than the Juke, 0.2-inches narrower, 6.7-inches longer and taller by 0.6-inches. So, it has 200-liters more passenger volume as well as more than twice the trunk capacity compared to the Juke with 708-liters of cargo space. The interior design also lets in a lot more ambient light than before so the cabin feels considerably larger than in the model that it replaces with significant increases to both legroom and headroom for all passengers.” Quoting myself from that review. 

Nissan Philippines masterfully skipped importing that launch model and instead waited for the way better and more full-featured facelifted Kicks series with the top-of-the-line VL variant that you see here in Cayenne Red. The attractive interior is straight forward but it is both mature and tasteful. I like that the unique gear control is illuminated. The crisp 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, guided rear parking camera with rear sonar and 360-degree intelligent Around View Monitor® are all pretty great backed by a 6-speaker system though I wish Nissan Philippines included the fantastic Bose® PersonalSpace Control 8-speaker system that includes special adjustable speakers on the driver side headrest that have been programmed to further enhance the aural experience for the driver which is available in other markets. The Fine Vision electroluminescent gauges are comprehensive and very similar to the systems already found in the Almera and Leaf. The front seats once again feature the zero-gravity treatment for extra comfort and support combined with genuine leather with contrasting double-stitched seating surfaces that are also applied at the rear, dashboard, steering wheel, and center knee pads.

To complete the facelift, the new Nissan Kicks series also features the new brand logos and full signature LED lighting on both ends for the whole model lineup that begins with the very affordable EL model that retails for P1,209,000.00. The VL variant gets the additional LED fog lamps and more standard equipment. There is no spare tire on any model, instead an inflator, key tools, and a tire sealant is found underneath the trunk floor cover. All variants come with a standard 5-year / 150,000-kilometer warranty that covers the car, the drivetrain, and the battery.

The Nissan Kicks e-POWER variant is not available in the North American market yet. If it was, it would certainly outsell its current non-electrified 1.6-liter powered version that produces an anemic 122 bhp @ 6300 rpm and 114 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm which is actually slightly down on power compared to the very first model that we tested a few years back. Our market’s Kicks e-POWER is 1.4 seconds quicker from 0-100 km/h while feeling much more dynamic and alive at all times.

The Nissan Kicks VL e-POWER reminds me a lot of the first-generation BMW i3 models in the manner of how power is delivered through pure electrification with almost all the power and torque available from idle. The big difference though is that you would have to purchase the BMW i3 model with the range extender in order to manage range anxiety and the maximum attainable range with a full tank of fuel and a fully charged battery was only 240 kilometers (the more exciting BMW i3s variant was a better overall performer but even that only had a 288-kilometer maximum range). The Nissan Kicks may not be as quick or have the agility of the BMW i3, but with its effortless and potent e-POWER system it can breach 900-kilometers of range on a single tank of fuel WITHOUT the need to charge the battery (that is all done automatically by the intelligent system)! There are no dull moments with the Kicks. It is hugely fun to drive and it always feels strong and eager, unlike other hybrids that drive like they are on an anesthesia drip. The e-pedal system makes everyday driving in our heavy traffic conditions way less painful too.

The Nissan Kicks VL e-Power is the absolute best argument and most desirable stopgap between a pure EV and a conventionally powered vehicle. It is a genuine performer that rewards the driver and passengers with an efficient yet zippy, versatile and comfortable small crossover available at affordable prices at each trim level. The big problem we foresee for Nissan Philippines with their new Kicks is how to keep up with the demand! 

Specification – 2022 Nissan Kicks VL e-POWER

Engine: Inline-3 

Location: Front, Transverse

Displacement: 1198 cc 

Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum 

Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, CVTC 

Fuel Injection: Multipoint Injection and Water-cooled 3-phase AC Synchronous Motor, 349V, 2.13 kWh lithium-ion battery producing 134 hp / 206 lb-ft of torque, 10500 rpm redline.

Max power: 78 bhp @ 5400 rpm (Performs purely as a generator)

Max torque: 76 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm (Performs purely as a generator)

Transmission: Single Speed Reduction Gear Automatic, Front Wheel Drive.

Front suspension: Independent MacPherson strut and 22 mm anti-roll bar

Rear suspension: Torsion-Beam, coil springs, twin-tube dampers.

Fuel Capacity: 41 liters (10.8 gallons)

Ground Clearance: 180 mm 

Angle of approach (degrees): 16.6

Angle of departure (degrees): 28.7

Ramp angle (degrees): 18.4

Load Capacity: 470 liters with rear bench up / 835 liters with rear split-bench folded.

L x W x H: 4300 mm x 1760 mm x 1615 mm  

Wheelbase: 2620 mm 

Brakes: Front 11-inch (280 mm) ventilated discs with 1-piston calipers / Rear 11-inch (280 mm) solid discs with 1-piston calipers, ABS, HSA, EBD, BA, IEB, Intelligent Mobility Suite with Moving Object Detection, Vehicle Dynamic Control, e-Pedal Step, e-PKB with auto hold. 

Wheels: 17”x 6.5J 5-Spoke Two-Tone Alloys

Tires: 205/55R17 91V Dunlop Enasave EC300+

Weight: (kerb) 1359 kg. (2990 lbs.) 

0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 8.4 seconds

Top Speed (mph): 170 km/h (106 mph) Governed

Fuel Mileage: 22 kms. / Liter overall

Price as tested: PhP 1,509,000.00 

C! RATING 10/10

+Brilliant powertrain, strong standard packaging, versatile, comfortable, entertaining yet super-efficient, a new standard beyond its segment. 

Governed top speed, no rear climate control vents, Bose Personal® Plus audio system with 8 speakers, including Bose UltraNearfield™ driver headrest speakers not available in our market. 

 

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