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LA show: Nissan Kicks not ruled out for Oz

What are those: Nissan’s Kicks is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine that produces 93kW of power and 156Nm of torque, which is paired with a continuously-variable transmission.

Nissan US scores another SUV to bolster line-up, Oz debut still uncertain

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Nissan logo30 Nov 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

NISSAN has revealed its US-spec Kicks small-sized crossover at this year’s Los Angeles motor show with an Australian birth in its current form looking unlikely, but introducing a future iteration was not ruled out by the brand’s local division.

The Australian arm of the Japanese car-maker already fields two competitors in the small SUV segment in the form the quirky Juke and recently-updated Qashqai, but Nissan Australia’s new managing director Stephen Lester told GoAuto earlier this week that the product portfolio is constantly under review.

While the Kicks was originally developed for emerging markets focussed primarily on the South America region, GoAuto understands that Australia’s stricter safety requirements would deem the current version of the small SUV unsuitable.

Due for sale Stateside mid next year, the Kicks will arrive in three different flavours – the base S, mid-spec SV and range-topping SR.

Aimed at inner city use, all three versions of the Kicks will be powered by a 1.6-litre dual-overhead cam four-cylinder engine, sending 93kW/156Nm through a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and down to the ground via the front wheels.

Fuel economy is “anticipated”, according to Nissan, to be 8.5 litres per 100km.

Looking like a cross between Toyota’s C-HR and a Nissan Qashqai, the Kicks sports sleek headlights and boomerang-style tail-lights, while boldly wearing the brand’s V-Motion grille up front.

Seven exterior colours are on offer, including five two-tone combinations with either a black, orange or white roof matched to a contrasting colour for those wanting a head-turning duco.

The Kicks also sports a floating roof effect thanks to blacked out A- and C-pillars, the latter of which blends into the tailgate glass for what Nissan describes as “a distinctive and eye-catching appeal”.

Black plastic cladding surround the wheelarches and lower body to give a crossover look, while the Kicks also sports 178mm of ground clearance for the rough roads of the city.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel is included inside, while other interior highlights include a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, contrast stitching and gloss-black trim.

Starting with the entry level S, Nissan includes autonomous emergency braking, Bluetooth connectivity, roof rails, 16-inch steel wheels and automatic headlights.

Stepping up to the SV adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, 17-inch wheels, heated mirrors and a 7.0-inch display nestled between instrumentation.

Top-spec SR versions gain LED headlights, fog-lights, 360-degree surround view cameras, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, front and rear bumpers with body-coloured inserts, a roof-mounted rear spoiler, and dark chrome grille highlights.

Nissan North America senior vice president of sales and marketing Dan Mohnke said the Kicks will slot in perfectly amongst the brands over crossover offerings including the Pathfinder, Rogue Sport (Qashqai) and US-market Murano.

“This emerging CUV (crossover utility vehicle) class is exploding with new entries for a very good reason – the combination of flexible utility and high value is ideal for active, urban new vehicle buyers,” he said.

“From a pure visual standpoint on the street, Kicks is a true head turner, especially in the bold two-tone colour combinations.

“Kicks is clearly recognisable as part of the Nissan CUV family, but has a vibrancy and identity all its own.”

Displayed alongside the Kicks on Nissan’s LA motor show stand are six customised Star Wars-inspired concept vehicles that will, sadly, never take flight outside of North America.

Nissan’s team-up with Lucasfilm to build tie-in vehicles with the latest Star Wars movie – The Last Jedi – is a North American-market exclusive deal, meaning Australian fans of a galaxy far, far away will likely never see the vehicles in the metal.

Three Maxima sedans have been modified to pay homage to the Stormtrooper-leading Captain Phasma, the villainous Kylo Ren and the latter’s Tie Silencer vehicle.

In addition, a bespoke Altima wearing custom wheels and body wrap is dubbed the Special Forces Tie Fighter, while a Rogue Sport wears A-wing-inspired bolt-ons and a Rogue SUV sprouts wings based on a character’s X-wing fighter.

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