2023 Nissan Kicks e-POWER Quick Drive Review: Kickstarting a new trend

Updated Nov 22, 2022

Accelerating toward carbon neutrality on one pedal.
2023 Nissan Kicks e-POWER Quick Drive Review: Kickstarting a new trend

In this review...

  1. Introduction
  2. Exterior
  3. Interior
  4. Tech & Safety
  5. Driving
  6. Initial Verdict

2023 Nissan Kicks Quick Drive Review: Introduction

It’s becoming more apparent that the future of mobility is leaning towards electrification. With policies pushing for electric vehicles (EV) already in place in several countries, car brands are ramping up their research and development to adapt to the imminent future.

Transitioning to EVs might not be a novel thought for other countries such as Japan, the United States, and other developed countries. We can probably agree on the fact that the notion of shifting to EVs is still not a popular thing in the Philippines. The country still needs to have the necessary infrastructure for the market to make the electric switch.

Nissan Philippines has a way of helping the market understand the benefits of making the electric shift through a series of campaigns promoting EVs. It has even launched the LEAF EV in the country. However, the Nissan LEAF’s price tag is a bit too daunting for the majority of the car buyers in the Philippines. Couple that with the lack of EV charging stations, the local market still leans on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

Nissan Philippines president Juan Manuel Hoyos with Kicks e-POWERNissan Philippines president Juan Manuel Hoyos (right-most) with Kicks e-POWER

Nissan understands that issue, which is why it is now taking its next step in giving the local market a more plausible driving force to make the shift. Say hello to the Nissan Kicks, a crossover that’s equipped with the car brand’s e-POWER technology. To get more acquainted with this vehicle, Nissan Philippines invited Philkotse to an exclusive track day event at the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga.

2023 Nissan Kicks Quick Drive Review: Exterior

After a series of ambush questions, Nissan Philippines has finally decided to formally announce that the Kicks is indeed coming into the market. The said Nissan five-seater crossover will be launched in August.

2023 Nissan Kicks front profile shotThe 2023 Nissan Kicks comes with an assertive exterior design

The Nissan Kicks has an assertive exterior design that’s highlighted by crisp character lines from front to rear. It has a large black front grille, which complements the V-shaped trim that’s integrated with chrome and piano black accent.

The Kicks’ assertiveness is further highlighted with the sweptback headlights, creating a focused gazed illusion. You also can’t miss the vehicle’s prominent bumper that houses the fog lights. Of note, the Nissan Kicks will be reportedly offered in three variants, and the availability of the fog lights depends on the specific trim/variant.

2023 Nissan Kicks side profile shotIt has crisp character lines on the side

The side profile is where you’ll mostly see the Kicks’ crisp character lines, which gives the crossover an athletic look. The Nissan Kicks also comes with prominent fender flares that add to its overall assertive exterior.

2023 Nissan Kicks rear shotThe Kicks' rear comes with a distinctive look

Noticeable character lines continue to be seen at the Kicks’ rear, completing its overall exterior look. The wraparound taillights give a distinctive finish while the lightbar running along the tailgate gives a seamless connected look between the two rear lights. It also has a bulging bumper that’s integrated with black cladding. And oh, the Kicks bears the new Nissan logo for its emblem. This makes it the second vehicle to have the new Nissan logo since it was first seen locally with the Patrol SUV.

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2023 Nissan Kicks Quick Drive Review: Interior

The interior of the Kicks shares a bit of similarity to the Nissan Almera especially when you look into the dashboard layout. But, the difference between the gear lever is night and day, which is understandably so since the Kicks comes with a different power unit.

2023 Nissan Kicks interior dashboardThe Kicks' dashboard layout looks similar to the Nissan Almera

The Kicks’ black-themed cabin comes with a subtle contrast due to the white stitching on the seats, dashboard, and center console. Piano black trims also add texture to the Kicks’ interior. Aside from those, the Kicks has a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a digital-analog split instrument cluster, and an infotainment system that looks similar to one fitted in the Almera.

The seats are covered in leather for the higher-end variants while fabric seats can be found on the lower-end trims. As of this writing, Nissan Philippines has yet to release the detailed and final specifications per variant.

2023 Nissan Kicks rear seatsAmple legroom for rear passengers

Similar to other subcompact crossovers in the Philippines, the Nissan Kicks can accommodate up to five occupants. Three passengers can seat at the back but it might be a tight fit for the middle passenger. From the looks of it during the Nissan Kicks track day at Clark, the vehicle comes with decent leg- and head-room.

2023 Nissan Kicks cargo spaceLoading up items at the back is no problem too

The cargo space is also generous, allowing you to fit a week’s supply of groceries easily with room to spare for other items.

2023 Nissan Kicks Quick Drive Review: Tech & Safety

The e-POWER technology is obviously the highlight of the Nissan Kicks. It’s also its main calling card as it goes up against its segment rivals in the Philippines, such as the Toyota Corolla Cross, when it is officially launched in August.

2023 Nissan Kicks front shotThe Nissan Kicks comes with e-POWER technology

What exactly is Nissan’s e-POWER? The Japanese automaker said that the e-POWER is a 100 percent electric motor-driven system. So, is it a fully electric vehicle? No, it’s not since the Kicks e-POWER still comes with a gasoline engine that charges the battery pack, which then gives power to the electric motor.

Of note, the electric motor delivers power directly to the wheels. There is no mechanical link between the engine and the wheels. Think of it this way: the electric motor uses the stored energy from the battery pack, which makes the Kicks a 100 percent electric motor-driven vehicle. Then, the main task of the gasoline engine is to charge the battery pack when necessary.

Think of the gasoline engine as a wireless mobile power bank that’s attached to your smartphone. The power bank only needs to function when your smartphone’s battery is about to run low. The juice stored in your power bank charges your phone’s battery, which then allows your smartphone’s microchip to function.  

2023 Nissan Kicks front fasciaReady to strike

Nissan’s e-POWER technology eliminates range anxiety since the gasoline engine is the one that charges the battery pack. You don’t have to worry about the Kicks’ battery charge level as long as the gasoline engine has fuel.

In the event that your fuel is about to reach empty, a gasoline station is easier to find rather than an EV charging station. Where in fact, the concept of an EV charging station is still a novelty in the Philippines, right?

Aside from the gasoline engine, regenerative braking also produces electricity. This happens when you decelerate the Kicks, which reduces the operation time of the gasoline engine resulting in better fuel efficiency.

2023 Nissan Kicks Quick Drive Review: Driving

Nissan PH brought us to Clark International Speedway to get acquainted with the Kicks’ e-POWER technology. A driving instructor rode shotgun with us while we drove around the racetrack. Why so? Well, the goal of the driving experience is to not use the brake pedal.

2023 Nissan Kicks with Philkotse Content Manager Jacob OlivaPhilkotse Content Manager Jacob Oliva behind the wheel of the 2023 Nissan Kicks

The reason for that is because the Nissan Kicks comes with an e-Pedal Step feature, wherein the vehicle can accelerate and decelerate by applying and decompressing pressure on the gas pedal. The system does the braking for you whenever you lift your foot off the pedal. That said, it’s a bit counterintuitive since muscle memory dictates that you should step on the brakes in case you want to slow down.

On the first set of straights, we were instructed to accelerate up to 60 km/h and drive up to the cone/marker before releasing pressure on the gas pedal. The Kicks has adequate pull from the get-go, allowing the vehicle to get up to speed without a problem since the electric motor directly sends power to the wheels. It’s also quiet since power is not derived from the gasoline engine.

2023 Nissan Kicks clark international speedwayAll set to enter the PH crossover market

Upon reaching the cone, I instantly felt that the vehicle is slowing down the moment I lifted my foot off the gas pedal. There’s a slight hint of a jolt once you lift your foot off the gas but it’s not that bothersome. I even find the subtle jolt a good thing since it reassures me that the vehicle is doing the braking for me. Of note, you still need to step on the brake pedal for a full stop.

The Kicks’ e-Pedal and e-POWER work in combo, giving me the confidence to drive through several turns along the racing circuit. There are times that my instinct is telling me to apply the brake pedal but the Kicks (and the driving instructor) never failed to reassure me that I can take the turn with good measure.

It also handles well when driven on slalom or on a winding driving course. The Kicks has a tolerable body roll while the e-Pedal works fine in managing your speed to safely drive through it.  

2023 Nissan Kicks pit laneThe Nissan Kicks looks promising

Driving the Kicks on a racetrack is a nice way to get to know how its technology works. But, I couldn’t wait to drive this car in real-world conditions such as on Metro Manila streets. I figure that the e-Peal Step technology can help alleviate fatigue especially when you’re driving in the urban jungle.

I’m also looking forward to seeing how efficient the Kicks is when put into real-world driving conditions. In case you’re wondering, Nissan said that the Kicks can do 23.8 km/l (combined city and highway driving).  To put things in perspective, the Kicks’ published fuel economy is way better than most ICE cars available in the market today. The typical combined city and highway fuel economy of ICE cars, specifically crossover vehicles, reads between 12 to 14 km/l.

2023 Nissan Kicks Quick Drive Review: Initial Verdict

The Nissan Kicks with e-POWER looks promising. The technology it has makes it an ideal fit in the Philippine market. Aside from its claimed 23.8 km/l fuel economy, which is crucial considering the current oil prices, the Kicks also has the potential to make city driving more bearable through its e-Pedal Step feature.

2023 Nissan Kicks2023 Nissan Kicks

Its overall design is also at par with, if not better than, its segment rivals, and it has a distinct look without going too fancy like the one we saw in the previous generation Juke. The way I see it, the Kicks is more likable in terms of its design, which can help attract more potential buyers.

But, the Kicks’ ace is that it might convince the local market to take that first step toward the future of mobility. While we wait for the EV infrastructure in the Philippines, the Nissan Kicks could help us understand more about the benefits of owning an EV. It could also steer the market’s acceleration toward carbon neutrality, deviating from oil dependency.

All of that will depend on how the Kicks is going to be marketed by Nissan PH. Let’s do hope that it will be priced competitively.

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