Ad­mirable and affordable

The 2018 Nis­san Kicks may be tar­geted to a younger buyer, but should ap­peal to a broad range of driv­ers

StarMetro Vancouver - - DAILY LIFE - Craig Cole

When in­vited to test drive the brand-new Nis­san Kicks, I was more than a bit ap­pre­hen­sive.

After all, what good could I pos­si­bly say about this bot­tom­feed­ing, Versa-based sub­com­pact cross­over, having been pam­pered in re­cent months by some of the finest ve­hi­cles on Earth, bounc­ing be­tween the driver’s seats of mod­els like the As­ton Martin Van­tage and DB11 AMR, Ford’s Plat­inum-trimmed F-150 Power Stroke pickup and even the scin­til­lat­ing Porsche Ma­can GTS. Upon reach­ing the sum­mit, how can one ever set­tle for less?

In re­al­ity, I shouldn’t have fret­ted be­cause the Kicks is an ad­mirable ef­fort made all the more im­pres­sive by a par­si­mo­nious base price of about $18K.

Thanks to its boomerang head- and tail-lights, sig­na­ture V-mo­tion grille, and float­ing roof, the Kicks fits right in with its next of kin like the Rogue and Pathfinder, al­though it has a chubby cute­ness not com­mon to the Nis­san blood­line, with front fend­ers bulging slightly like an in­fant’s cheeks.

Seven ex­te­rior colours are avail­able, but for ex­tra fun, there are five two-tone op­tions; with the gray-body-an­do­r­ange-roof combo be­ing par­tic­u­larly striking.

Com­pet­ing with other sub­com­pact crossovers, Kicks is bring­ing the fight to mod­els like Honda’s ver­sa­tile HR-V, the new Ford Ecos­port, Toy­ota’s funki­fied CH-R and of course the hot-sell­ing Kia Soul, ar­guably this seg­ment’s pro­gen­i­tor.

De­spite launch­ing in June, a time when many next-mod­e­lyear ve­hi­cles come out, Nis­san’s lat­est of­fer­ing is in­deed a 2018. They went this route sup­pos­edly to get it to the mar­ket as soon as pos­si­ble, to fill the Juke’s va­cant slot and cap­i­tal­ize on this seg­ment’s growth, which prod­uct plan­ners ex­pect to in­crease by nearly 160 per cent over the next five years.

Checkin’ the specs, Kicks com­petes favourably with all its ma­jor ri­vals in just about ev­ery cat­e­gory of note, from over­all length and wheel­base to en­gine out­put and avail­able fea­tures, though it does have a few sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages.

This li’l Nis­san crushes ri­vals in fuel econ­omy, burn­ing ap­pre­cia­ble less in all driv­ing cy­cles. Ex­pect it to sticker at

7.7 L/100 km in city driv­ing and

6.3 L/100 km on the high­way, likely best-in-class scores across the board. Ef­fi­ciency aside, it’s also in­cred­i­bly spa­cious, with more than 1,500 litres of max­i­mum cargo capacity and 716 litres be­hind the rear seats.

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With a sim­pler ap­pear­ance both in­side and out, this new name­plate should ap­peal to a much broader range of driv­ers, though it’s still aimed di­rectly at ur­ban­ites.

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