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Friday, July 15, 2022

Thanks To E-POWER, The Nissan Kicks Could Be The Easiest SUV You Can Drive


Traditional hybrids have earned a reputation for being frugal, but not exactly fun to drive. Though technology has improved their performance recently, because the base is still a traditional internal combustion engine, it falls prey to some drawbacks. These include a delayed engagement of the gasoline engine (it takes a split-second for the engine to crank up at situations when power’s quickly needed such as overtaking) and drivetrain-associated power loss (they’re still equipped with a gearbox, after all).

In order to solve this conundrum, Nissan has gone the other way. Instead of improving the internal combustion engine by adding an electric motor and battery pack, they’re adding a small gasoline engine (1.2-liter 3-cylinder HR12DE) to act as a power generator to what’s essentially the same hardware used by their all-electric Leaf. The result is 136 horsepower and 280 Nm of torque—or compared to the Kicks e-Power’s chief rival—11 percent more horsepower and, more impressively, 71 percent more torque. Oh, and that peak torque? It’s available from zero rpm. All in all, Nissan says its response is akin to having a turbocharged 2.0-liter under the hood.

Moreover, because the engine revs aren’t dedicated by speed or load, it’s always kept at its most efficient rpm no matter how heavy the right foot pushes down on the accelerator. This gives an almost idiot-proof fuel economy rating of 22 to 25 km/L. Subsequently, because the combustion engine doesn’t have to deal with fluctuating engine speeds, it also equates to less wear-and-tear, reducing the overall cost of ownership. Oh, and for those concerned about the high-voltage battery, the 2.06-kWh lithium-ion battery is guaranteed to last the life of the Kicks e-Power (although it comes with a 5-year warranty for peace of mind).



Ultimately, by using the Leaf’s electric motor as the base, Nissan is able to imbue the Kicks e-Power with driving technology found only in EVs. Here, it’s the e-Pedal Step. This allows drivers to control acceleration and deceleration (only to a crawl, and not to a standstill) by using the throttle pedal alone.

Turned on by engaging either Eco or Sport mode, the Kicks e-Power can decelerate by having the driver simply lifting off the accelerator pedal. The amount of deceleration varies according to the amount lifted and the vehicle’s speed. But according to Nissan data, it produces between 0.15 g to 0.18 g of braking force which is then used to recharge the battery.

Because the Kicks e-Power’s speed can be adjusted through the accelerator pedal alone, there’s a decreased use of the brakes. This can make city driving and its repeated acceleration and deceleration less stressful; at high-speed driving, particularly through winding, continuous curves it makes the experience more enjoyable. To prove a point, the Clark International Speedway can be lapped without even once applying the brake pedal. Albeit the maximum speeds for the on-track exercises were limited to just 100 km/h, it showed that one-pedal driving is possible with e-Pedal Step.



More importantly, e-Pedal Step can be considered as a safety feature, particularly on slippery road conditions. Because it suppresses disturbances to vehicle behavior caused by the application of the brakes, it also makes it possible to smoothly and stably decelerate by detecting tire slip and precisely controlling the strength of the regenerative braking.

Having sampled the e-Power system in the urban confines, driving it on track enables drivers to understand its unique features such as e-Pedal Step. The Kicks e-Power isn’t the first hybrid in the market (it’s actually classified as a series-type hybrid), but what sets it apart is how it successfully leverages Nissan’s EV know-how to produce a different, and admittedly, more fun driving experience. Moreover, it’s set to cast a wider net for those who see a rational benefit to electrification (cheaper ownership costs). In fact, Nissan Philippines plans to sell the Kicks e-Power not just through its authorized EV certified dealer, but across its entire network.



With a goal of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2050, Nissan has set a target to electrify every all-new vehicle offering by early 2030s. E-Power is certainly fundamental to that effort, and it’s one that ultimately serves to bridge the gap to a pure EV experience. For now, it offers all the advantages with none of the drawbacks.

10 comments:

  1. this will be a good buy if the price is right

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    Replies
    1. Hmmmm..... this or the corolla cross hybrid?

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    2. It was told to another notable car reviewer that Nissan will price it even lower than the Corolla Cross. If it does, then it has Stonic, Coolest, Territory, Tiggo 7 Pro and MG ZST on its scopes. Nissan PH might have their goldilocks model here.

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    3. Sorry, garbage autocorrect. It's *Coolray

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  2. Based sa engine bay image parang walang lead acid battery? Or iyong black box sa may left/driver strut ay lead acid battery?

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    Replies
    1. It's mounted in the trunk (same area as the spare tire).

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    2. does it have a spare tire?

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    3. Inflator kit in the pre-production model (camouflaged). We didn't get to check if the ones we drove on the track had a spare. If ever it does, it'll be a temporary-type spare.

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  3. This could be promising.

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  4. Hope you can do a review driving up and down the mountain.

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