Nissan Philippines will soon be launching something new that will surely electrify the hybrid crossover segment. Yes, you read that right, it’s a hybrid, just like its chief rival, the Toyota Corolla Cross. The 2023 Nissan Kicks e-POWER will be introduced into the Philippine market this August, and we get first dibs on learning more about it as well as getting a hands-on test session with the car at the Clark International Speedway to fully understand the product and the technology involved.
So let’s dive right in! The 2023 Nissan Kicks falls under the e-POWER pillar of the Nissan Electrification roadmap, with the other pillar being full EVs like the Nissan Leaf. Having said this, the 2023 Nissan Kicks e-POWER uses a 100% electric motor drive system with an addition of a gasoline engine. Now, you may say, huh? So how is it 100% electric if it has a gasoline engine as well? It’s still essentially 100% because the gasoline engine is simply used to generate electric power and charge the battery. It does not power the wheels whatsoever. The Nissan Kicks utilizes the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) technology that has been perfected in the Nissan Leaf. This means the e-POWER technology gives the best of both worlds. You get the comfort, benefits, silence, and instantaneous power delivery of an electric vehicle without the need to plug it in to charge it. Think of the gasoline engine as a power bank for the electric motor.
So to reiterate, the electric motor delivers power directly to the wheels through an inverter, using the energy stored in the battery pack, and the gasoline engine is simply used for generating electric power. The e-POWER technology ensures that the gasoline engine runs only when necessary which is usually when the battery does not have enough power or when higher power is needed which is adjusted depending on the accelerator. The 2023 Nissan Kicks e-POWER also utilizes regenerative braking to generate electric power even with slight decelerations, thus reducing the operating time of the gasoline engine. And since the gasoline engine is only used to charge the electric motor and generate electric power, this results in top-level fuel efficiency. We were told that the Nissan Kicks has a fuel efficiency range of 22-25 km/L
An additional feature on the 2023 Nissan Kicks e-POWER is called the e-Pedal step which allows the driver to control acceleration and deceleration by simply stepping on and letting off of the accelerator pedal only. This feature, especially the part about not using the brake pedal, may sound counterintuitive on paper but experiencing it firsthand, you gain confidence and trust in the technology because it works as designed. The Nissan Kicks will really decelerate when you lift off of the accelerator pedal even more during curves and turns. It takes a little bit of getting used to but can be easily adopted. e-Pedal also charges the battery through stronger regenerative braking.
Going a little bit into my hands-on experience with the Nissan Kicks, 1 lap was all it took to prove to me the e-POWER technology. On top of that, I was confident driving the car at speed and through curves as well as a short slalom course too. The steering felt very nimble and responsive and overall, the car was quite agile and planted. Now to me, having this level of confidence and trust in the car as well as its technology is a big deal for me as this was my first time ever to drive on a track as well as drive a hybrid. It was a good first-time experience on both fronts.
Personally, pre-Tesla, I have never been too keen on EV or hybrid vehicles as they always seem to only care about the features inside and under the hood and leave the exterior design looking like some randomly generated video game character. But this is not the case with the Kicks, it’s styled quite youthfully and tastefully. Nothing over the top but not boring either. A good blend of smooth and aggressive lines and angles paired with Nissan’s signature V-Motion grille and sporting the new logo as well. Across all variants, the Nissan Kicks will come with two-tone 17” wheels.
Speaking of variants, Nissan Philippines will be releasing three variants, namely the EL, VE and VL. Though still not yet finalized, most variants will come equipped with some features such as Hill Start Assist, Forward Emergency Braking, and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning. On the other hand, exclusive to the VL variant are features such as Intelligent Around View Monitor, Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Regardless of which variant you choose, almost all look identical to each other, though final specs for the Philippines has yet to be announced.
Going into a bit of detail for the specifications, the Nissan Kicks uses a 2-kilowatt battery (300-400V) that generates 136 hp and 280 Nm of torque. Since it does not need to be charged to a sockt, the battery has designed not to be affected by deterioration and is good for the entire life of the vehicle according to the engineers and executives at Nissan. Meanwhile, the gasoline engine is a naturally aspirated 1.2-liter, three-cylinder petrol engine with a 41-liter fuel tank capacity. The petrol engine is also not sensitive to octane ratings so lower octane rating fuel can be used without worry.
Stepping into the driver’s seat, you will be greeted by clean and simple digital instrumentations where you can monitor all the essential aspects of the vehicle. The Nissan Kicks also comes with the Nissan Connect infotainment system on the VE and above, which is an 8-inch touch screen display that comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Oh, and while the Nissan Kicks looks a little small for its segment, you will be pleasantly surprised that legroom is ample in the front and rear. Plus the storage capacity is quite large at 470 liters. Nissan has also decided to do away with a spare tire for the Kicks as it only comes equipped with a tire repair kit.
Nissan Philippines has not yet announced pricing and full specifications for the Kicks e-POWER. One thing’s confirmed, though. The Kicks e-POWER is arriving in the Philippines this August, and it should give the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid some good competition on which Japanese automaker is doing hybrids better.