What is it?
The new Kicks Turbo with its new, 156hp turbo-petrol engine, promises to be the most fun-to-drive version of Nissan’s SUV yet. An SUV we’d been waiting to drive for a few months, our disappointment when we finally manage to lay our hands on the car, however was palpable. There are absolutely no visual cues to tell us this is the new turbocharged version; no new bits on the exterior, no new stickers, not even a ‘Turbo’ badge. Even the interior is identical.
Where it is new, however, is under the hood. Co-developed by Nissan, Renault and Daimler, this high-tech turbo-petrol engine has been designed to replace punchy diesels. This is why it delivers a substantial 254Nm from just 1,600rpm in this form, and to make it feel punchy, great focus was laid on low-speed responses and low-energy airflow. The turbo uses an electric wastegate for faster responses, features a high-pressure, direct-petrol-injection system (250bar), 6-hole injectors, its variable cams are electrically actuated and the engine also uses technology from the Nissan GT-R – Mirror Bore Coating – that lowers friction.
What’s it like inside?
While there are no significant changes to the inside, the Kicks Turbo remains comfortable and solidly built. The cabin has a near-indestructible, Duster-like vibe to it (everything feels built to last at least a decade) and Nissan has given the cabin a padded dash, comfortable seats and a very capable touchscreen.
There are a few less-than-impressive plastics, such as those on the lower part of the dash, cup-holders are missing up front, and with no USB ports at the rear, passengers will have to share the one under the dash. Still, they won’t be left wanting for space in the rear, the rear bench itself is extremely comfortable and even the boot is fairly large and conveniently shaped.
What kind of features does it get?
First up, I want to use its coolest feature. Known as Remote Engine Start, it does what it says on the tin, and starts the car via a button on the key card. All you need to do is hold down said button for about three seconds and, hey presto, the Kicks Turbo starts up; as straightforward as that. It, uniquely, is the first car to offer this feature with a manual gearbox.
To use it, the car needs to be parked in neutral with the handbrake up. And if you want the cabin cooled (of course you do), you need to have left the air-con switched on. So as long as you are in range and can see your car from your office or home, you can start it up and cool the cabin. Though this car comes with the NissanConnect app, Remote Start can’t be used via your phone yet, and that’s a bit strange.
Nissan has also loaded the SUV with other kit. The Kicks Turbo comes with stuff like connected-car tech and a 360-degree parking camera, as well as stuff like voice recognition, idle stop-start, automatic headlights, cornering lights, ESP, hill-start assist, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and LED headlamps. Though features like cooled seats and wireless charging, found on competition like the Hyundai Creta, are missing.