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Nissan goes to Rio for its Kicks

Kicking on: Nissan’s Kicks concept will provide the basis for the production version of Nissan’s latest SUV, to be built in Brazil.

Another compact SUV gets the green light at Nissan as Brazil Kicks in


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7 Jan 2016

NISSAN is preparing to shoehorn another SUV into its burgeoning global range after management approved production of the Kicks compact crossover wagon in Brazil from later this year.

Seemingly sized to slot between the British-made Juke and Qashqai – both of which are sold in Australia – the Kicks is based on the concept of the same name that surfaced at the 2014 Sao Paulo motor show. That concept was itself based on an earlier concept, the Extrem, at the 2012 Sao Paulo event.

Nissan Australia says it is too soon to discuss the model for this market, “but as a global model, Kicks will naturally be assessed for Australia”.

Designed in an international collaboration between Nissan design centres in Japan, the United States and Brazil, the Kicks will be built in Nissan’s new Resende factory near Rio de Janeiro where 600 new employees will be hired to create a third production shift.

It is unclear how Nissan is planning to differentiate the Kicks from the other five-door, four-cylinder compact SUVs in its range.

If the production Kicks maintains the same dimensions as the concept – 4300mm long and 1800mm wide – it will be 165mm longer and 35mm wider than the Juke, and 77mm shorter and 6mm narrower than the Qashqai.

No powertrain or performance details were released with this week’s production confirmation, just a single teaser photo of the Kicks badge on the tailgate.

From what we can see from the image, the tailgate and tail-lights appear to be largely faithful to those of the concept, although the concept’s rear number plate holder appears to have been re-designed, getting a body colour strip across the top in place of a chrome item.

The Kicks was confirmed by Nissan CEO and president Carlos Ghosn who indicated that the Kicks was tasked with expanding Nissan’s SUV presence to more markets.

“Nissan invented the first crossover in 2003, with the Murano,” Mr Ghosn said.

“Since then, we've established our global crossover leadership with vehicles like Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail – which have been great successes.

“The Kicks will bring Nissan´s unique crossover expertise to more regions.”

This could be interpreted as confirmation that Kicks will be an affordable SUV primarily aimed at emerging markets – such as South America – where current models are deemed too expensive for the masses.

In Australia, Nissan already offers five SUVs – Juke, Qashqai, X-Trail, Pathfinder and Patrol.

In 2015, Nissan was ranked third in Australian SUV sales behind Toyota and Mazda. Its 39,925 sales represented a 9.8 per cent share of the SUV market, and accounted for more than 60 per cent of all Nissan sales.

Nissan SUV sales rose a healthy 18.3 per cent, with the new X-Trail medium wagon becoming the brand’s top-selling model, with 17,971 units – a jump of 43 per cent.

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