All the reasons to buy a small SUV are here and accounted for. As mentioned, the car’s huge windows imply more space than there actually is. Like other small SUVs, you can fit four adults with comfort. The second row feels at least as spacious as the Honda HR-V, meaning only the centre seat is squeezy for an adult.
There is no AC vents for the rear, but two USB ports will help distract occupants from the woes of car travel. The boot’s 423-litre capacity is segment-equalling, and there’s the usual 40/60 split fold.
|Nissan Kicks||Nissan Qashqai||Kia Seltos||Mazda CX-30||Honda HR-V|
Around the cockpit, there’s not quite as much space to stow your knick-knacks, besides the cupholders, small centre console and a shallow, under-armrest space.
Like the Serena E-Power, Nissan’s hybrid system does work well in Singapore. We drove more than 100km in the Kicks, including time for photo shoots and other not-so-efficient driving, and achieved 5.0L/100km. That is an excellent score even for a small car, and not far from Nissan’s official 4.6L/100km figure, and an impressive 820km per full tank.
In the past, you would have paid S$1,214 in road tax a year, far more than a conventional gasoline car, but times are changing for the better, and potential Kicks owners won’t get a wallet-kicking here anymore.
Nissan Singapore points out that the first six-months of road tax is included in the purchase price, which will last you into 2021 if you buy the car now.
Furthermore the road tax rules will change in 2021 benefiting the Kicks: Nissan says that after the road tax for hybrid cars is reduced next year, by its own calculations, that it expects Kicks owners to pay S$401 in road tax for six months, or S$802 a year.
That’s because the Kicks calculates its road tax differently from other hybrids, the electric motor output is the main component rather than engine capacity.
Right now the Kicks is the least expensive, officially-imported hybrid small SUV here (the HR-V and C-HR hybrids are parallel imports) and thus it has one key competitor: The Kia Niro.
It gives the Kicks a tough time, since it has pretty much everything the Nissan does, and is more efficient too – you’ll hit closer to 4.0L/100km unless you’re truly heavy-footed.
But back to dollars and sense: S$106,999 with COE means it’s almost level with the Kicks Premium at S$105,888 with COE. But on a higher-grade Niro SX is S$116,999 with COE compared to the Kicks Premium Plus at S$108,888 with COE. At this price level, S$8k extra is a big gap, but the Niro does pack a lot on for the money like a wireless smartphone charger, ventilated seats, and sunroof – read our review to see what the EX to SX gap is. There’s also the Hyundai Kona Hybrid, which starts at S$112k with COE, but we haven’t tested that yet.
Which to get? Leaving style and brand considerations aside, our initial verdict is that the Kicks draws ahead with its EV-like driving experience and lots of headroom, while the Niro has the edge in interior quality and refinement. If the Niro didn’t exist – and Kia didn’t price match – the Kicks would be able to kick its heels in the segment all by itself.