A compact crossover set to redefine its segment with style, practicality and innovative technology for every metropolitan motorist. FACT takes the all-new Nissan Kicks out onto the UAE roads for a test drive and here’s the verdict…


When you’re choosing a vehicle to drive in the UAE, what do you look for? Is it the exterior design? Or is it interior comfort? Maybe you like technological features, or are you all about easy driving? Whatever it is that you look for in a car, pay attention because Nissan Middle East wants to give you ALL of this and then some with the brand new crossover, the Nissan Kicks. Launched a few months ago into the Middle East market, Nissan has now ticked more boxes for drivers who want a crossover that combines innovation and class with style and performance. Let us tell you all about what makes this model so special…

The Nissan Kicks is solely aimed at urban driving environments – think everywhere from leafy suburbs to compound communities, the laid back Abu Dhabi Corniche and even rush hour on Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s abundant features cater to the UAE driver’s every motoring need; on the few windy days we drove the car, its robust exterior was like a guard against the heavy breeze, whilst the car’s generous ground clearance (200mm) provides an elevated driving position and a high eye point for excellent all-round visibility – something that you’ll appreciate at rush hour.

The Nissan Kicks also handles very well – its agile and smooth maneuverability makes the car a joy to drive (turning something that can be a stressful task in the UAE, into an enjoyable one). If you’re all about looks, you should know that this car is VERY visually appealing. The Kicks features established Nissan design signatures such as the V-motion grille which dominates the car’s front end. Also present are the boomerang head and taillights, and the “floating” coupé-style roof with a wrap-around visor look to the windscreen and side glass. To put it simply, for us, as young professionals working between Abu Dhabi and Dubai – this is definitely a car that is perfect for getting you to important meetings as well as being the designated ride for an evening out with friends. The body features an advanced aerodynamic design, which optimises fuel consumption (we were impressed that a full tank cost was no more than AED70 dirhams) and minimises noise. The spacious interior too, is instantly recognisable as a Nissan design thanks to the gliding wing shape stretching the width of the dashboard – not to mention, seats are super spacious and comfortable, especially ideal for those leisurely drives between the two emirates, or weekend road trips further afield.

The Kicks is packed with features to help the driver in every way It’s the first model to utilise the concept of Nissan Intelligent Mobility which uses smart, relevant technology to make
the driver’s life easier while also making advances towards Nissan’s long term goal of zero emission and zero fatality motoring. The Nissan Kicks targets young people who are early adopters of forward-thinking technology and those who appreciate and embrace the way it can both simplify urban driving and connect them more easily to what matters. In that regard, the Intelligent Mobility features within the Kicks aim to reduce stress for drivers through innovations such as the Around View Monitor (AVM) and the Moving Object
Detection system (MOD).

Parking is also a breeze; using four cameras, placed at the front and rear of the car and in both door mirrors, AVM creates a bird’s eye 360-degree view of the car which can be displayed on the central monitor and used as a parking aid. The cameras automatically get to work when you shift to R (reverse) mode, and in places like the UAE where street parking, general side stops and even tight spaces in the mall can be difficult to navigate, having the cameras is a HUGE help.

MOD is another great benefit of the Kicks: when the MOD system detects a moving object – a pedestrian, for example – a warning is sounded to alert the driver to the hazard and prevent a potential accident. This could help those drivers who may forget to check their blind spots when switching lanes or on those tricky corners with pedestrian crossings. Safety is the name of the game! The tech doesn’t stop there. Kicks owners will relish the convenience and simplicity of the suite of systems that are accessible via the centrally-mounted, 7-inch colour touchscreen. These functions include navigation, audio, and bluetooth phone connections. Complementing the touchscreen, and ideally located in front of the driver, a further screen in the main cluster of dials relays information from the on-board drive computer, audio system and navigation systems, as well as displaying warnings. Vehicle settings can be easily adjusted using the four-way selector on the steering wheel.

We found that the UAE maps on the navigation system were not suited for manual input; there was limited recognition of streets, buildings and specific locations like hotel names. However, the way around this is to lock into the Sat Nav under “points of interest” – from big malls to apartment towers, your nearest petrol station and even street parking spots – the GPS system had a good amount of places to lead you to the right area. A great help for those who may not be so familiar with UAE roads, and for those times when you might run out of data on your phone! Among a host of comfort and safety technologies included in Kicks, its chassis control, supported by advanced electronic systems known as Active Trace Control, Active Ride Control and Active Engine Brake, is a truly outstanding feature.

Active Trace Control is an innovation that intervenes during driving through corners to ensure the intended trajectory is maintained by discreetly applying brakes to wheels individually. This has the effect of preventing a sudden loss of grip or stability. Similarly, Active Ride Control, applies the brakes for a split-second after the car has encountered large undulations in the road, to reduce the “bounce” effect on the suspension. This simple, effective solution is lighter and less complex than expensive and heavy adaptive damping systems. To counter the “coasting” effect often associated with automatic and CVT gearboxes, Kicks is equipped with Active Engine Brake. When the accelerator is released, typically approaching a corner, engine braking is applied to stabilise the speed. This range of tech will help on main roads to give you a smoother drive as well as tight corners in underground parking, for example, and every on-road situation that may require the your car to come to your rescue.

Nissan Kicks has class-leading fuel efficiency thanks to its advanced 1.6-litre engine and lightweight platform. Power is rated at 88kW (118HP) and torque of 149Nm, so you’ll get the added benefit of superb performance too. Word of warning: there were some days when the automatic unlocking of the car took a while. Whether it was the key or another element, it took us around 10 minutes of circling the car and pressing the key for the it to respond. A malfunction that isn’t ideal, but nowhere near a good enough reason to put us off! This Kicks keeps things compact with the most tasteful design and technologically driven features. This is NOT a mum and dad car. It’s for the young professional who wants to be at the top of their game in both business and pleasure – a refined vehicle to safely and stylishly cruise the UAE roads.