A month after it announced its new growth strategy for India, Japanese carmaker Nissan today took the covers off the Kicks SUV, which will be the first of a number of new products Nissan plans to launch in India. The Kicks is also the vehicle that looks to kick-start progress for the company in a country that's tipped to become the global No. 3 market by 2021.
Nissan Motor India, which currently has a minuscule 1.13 percent passenger vehicle market share (April-September 2018: 19,742 PVs / -26% YoY) and 0.68 percent utility vehicle market share (April-September 2018: 3,166 UVs), is looking to gain some traction in the booming Indian market, starting with the launch of the Kicks in early 2019. And there will more Nissans from the global portfolio in the future coming too.
Same but different
The India-spec Kicks SUV reveal in Mumbai was a display solely of the exterior. A closer look at the vehicle's interiors will happen in the near future.
Compared to the global Kicks model, the India-spec Kicks looks very much the same but for a redesigned front bumper with faux air inlets above the fog lights and an aluminium skid plate, LED headlights and a new honeycomb mesh design for the grille, flanked by a more angular ‘V-motion’ chrome band.
The Kicks for India is bigger than the global model and is 4,384mm long, 89mm longer than the model sold abroad, wider (1,813mm) and taller (1,656mm), with a longer wheelbase (2,673mm). It is also based on an updated version of the Alliance's M0 platform (and not on Nissan's V platform), which also underpins the Renault Captur. Ground clearance is 210mm.
The India-spec Kicks retains the international model's muscular wheel arches, strong shoulder line, blacked-out pillars and the ‘floating roof', which is finished in eye-catching orange and features more prominent roof rails. It rides on smart-looking 17-inch alloy wheels, and at the back, it’s almost identical to the international model save for the chrome applique on top of the registration plate housing and a mildly reworked rear bumper.
Thomas Kuehl: "With a progressive SUV design and advanced technology, the Kicks is bound to appeal the new-age urban adventure seeker."
Speaking at the product reveal in Mumbai today, Thomas Kuehl, president, Nissan India Operations, said, “We are excited and proud to unveil the engaging and provocative design of the new Kicks. The new Nissan Kicks is a testimony of our commitment to India. With a progressive SUV design and advanced technology, it is bound to appeal to the new-age urban adventure seeker. As a part of the India Strategy, Nissan will bring the best of global Nissan products and technology to our customers in India.”
The inside story
While the official reveal of the Kicks' interior is yet to happen, Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice-president and head of global design at Nissan Motor Co, told Autocar Professional that "the interior is a bit more roomy and from the stance, it's more of an SUV than a crossover. The technology and connectivity are very nice too. These are all by looking directly at what’s happening at the really tough competition in India, and the size of the vehicle in this category, which is a new category. We feel we have a unique space inside of that. The Kicks is a lively, dynamic small SUV, which is robust with a very agile drive for the city. And when you get on the inside, you have a huge screen, lovely craftsmanship of the interiors, Japanese technology for India, so it represents Nissan."
Suffice it to say that the India-spec Kicks will have more interior space due to the increase in size, and likely more boot space too than the international Kicks' 432 litres. And, like the styling outside, the inside of the five-seat cabin is also likely to be similar to global models.
So, expect a youthful vibe to the cabin and Nissan could also be adventurous with the interior colour scheme. An 8.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be part of the package, as will automatic climate control and several other goodies.
Kicks as a Creta-challenger
It is likely the India-spec Kicks will sport the same engine and gearbox options as the Nissan Terrano, Renault Duster and Captur: the tried-and-tested 110hp, 1.5-litre diesel motor, and a 106hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine. Gearbox options could include a 6-speed manual for the diesel and a 5-speed manual for the petrol. A CVT gearbox with the petrol powerplant and an automatic transmission with the diesel engine will be offered with the Kicks, though some time after it has launched.
Considering the Kicks will be positioned above the Terrano in Nissan's SUV line-up, expect prices for the Kicks to range from Rs 940,000 to 15 lakh (ex-showroom) when it is launched early next year. The Nissan Kicks is set to take on the Hyundai Creta.
Dealing a new growth card
In line with its new growth strategy, Nissan Motor India plans to substantially expand its dealership network across the country. According to Thomas Kuehl, the plan is to "double the network by 2021." This means a network of around 600 dealers, considering the carmaker currently has 287 dealers in place.
Nissan clearly wants to get moving in India and will be banking on a slew of new products in the coming years. Kuehl said, "We will bring our global strength (in terms of products) to India. This was something that we did not do before."
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