Nissan India today announced launch of the BS VI avatar of its mid-sized crossover, Nissan Kicks, which has now seen a change of heart by letting go of its erstwhile diesel motor for a petrol-only choice of powertrain options.
The company has introduced the BS VI Nissan Kicks with prices ranging between Rs 949,990 for the entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engine to Rs 1,414,990, (ex-showroom country wide), for top-of-the-line 1.3-litre turbo-petrol CVT.
While the Kicks was launched in January 2019 with Renault-Nissan’s 110bhp, 240Nm 1.5-litre K9K diesel motor and a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the company had later announced to follow in the footsteps of market leader Maruti Suzuki and completely exit the diesel engine arena as soon as the Indian automotive sector enters the BS VI emission regime starting April 2020.
Now, Nissan has replaced the 1.5 K9K motor with an all-new 1.3-litre turbo-petrol (H13 DDT) engine, which develops a significantly higher 154bhp and 254Nm of torque. This engine will be available in both manual as well as CVT options, starting from Rs 1,184,990 and Rs 1,344,990, (ex-showroom countrywide), respectively. Company says these prices are introductory.
Nissan has also stated that the H13 DDT turbo-petrol motor borrows cylinder-coating technology from the iconic Nissan GTR sports car to aid performance as well as fuel efficiency, which, along with its dual variable valve timing also reduces emissions and offers maximum torque at lower rpm levels.
The company also claims that its CVT is almost 40 percent more efficient than similar existing CVT gearboxes in the market. While the Kicks 1.5 MT is rated at 13.9kpl by ARAI in fuel economy tests, the 1.3 turbo MT gets a better 15.8kpl rating.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine, on the other hand, continues to develop 106bhp and 142Nm of torque. The BS VI Nissan Kicks also sees no striking change to the exterior or interior, albeit the crossover now getting six mono-tone and three dual-tone colours.
In terms of safety, the refreshed Kicks gets dual airbags, ABS and EBD as standard, and also gets options of a vehicle stability management (VSM), ESC, traction control system, hill-start assist and cruise control.
Exit diesel, enter turbo-petrols
Nissan is not the first manufacturer to have taken the bold step of offering more performance to the Indian car buyer in its latest product launch. Before this, the Korean duo of Hyundai-Kia have adopted this new strategy of alluring buyers by offering performance with their latest gasoline direct injection (GDI) range of engines in their UV models.
While the Hyundai Venue compact crossover was launched with its 1.0-litre GDI motor in May 2019, Kia followed by offering the Seltos with a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol in the Seltos, mated to a 7-speed automatic DCT gearbox in August last year. More recently, the 2020 Hyundai Creta was also launched with the same 1.4-litre turbo-petrol-automatic combination.
As diesel fuel increasingly draws the wrong attention from an environment conservation standpoint due to its image of being a more polluting fossil fuel, sales of diesel-powered vehicles in the personal mobility segment are on a decline. Earlier this year in February, diesel UV sales plummeted by 50 percent, giving a new charge to petrol vehicles.
What is set to also fuel this fire further is the recent hike in the nozzle prices of diesel in some cities such as New Delhi, where the net price difference between diesel and petrol is now minimal.
As the consumer gradually starts getting back to work and make discretionary spends such as new vehicle purchases, will the Nissan Kicks be one among the top considerations in the UV segment? With a handful of models in its current portfolio, the company closed FY2020 with overall domestic volumes of 17,976 units, registering a deplorable 50.78 percent de-growth. Its exports from India, however, rose 37.87 percent to 79,479 units in the last financial year.
But, with competitors such as Hyundai Motor India and Kia Motors India, which are raging a fury in the market with their latest products, Nissan Motor India has long way to go to regain some significant share, which stood at merely 0.55 percent till end-March 2020. Can the Kicks and its upcoming compact crossover slated to launch in Q2 of FY2021 turn the tables around? We will keep a close watch.
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