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October 23, 2022

Review: 2022 Nissan Kicks e-POWER VL

Among small SUVs, the Nissan Kicks has caught the attention of people for one thing: its all-electric powertrain. Initially, there’s been some confusion on the role of the on-board combustion engine (we’ll get to that later), but the fact of the matter is, it’s the only one in its class to be powered solely by an AC synchronous motor. As such, there’s no denying that it delivers a great drive. However, at the same time, it’s saddled by a package that’s simply run-of-the-mill everywhere else.

Competing in a class populated by the likes of the Mazda CX-30 and Toyota Corolla Cross—both of which come with either a standard or optional hybrid powertrain, the Kicks comes out looking, “okay.” It’s not exactly a head-turner style-wise and some would even argue it looks dated already, but at least it’s sleek compared to the frumpy lump that Toyota’s come up with. It sticks to the Nissan corporate look, but there are some playful touches here like the D-pillar kink, two-tone color scheme, and full-width taillight cluster. Often overlooked details too are also the silver-colored roof rails which happen to perfectly match the silver-trim on the bumpers and side sills.

“Alright” as the Kicks is outside, things turn to a big disappointment inside. Despite its P 1.509-million price tag (a pretty penny no matter how you look at it), its econo-car origin is put in plain view with its choice of materials. With the exception of a padded insert in the middle of the dash, everything else is made of hard, hollow plastic. Thankfully, the switchgear is well-wearing and operates with a nice, crisp feel. In addition, the use of large knobs and rocker switches improves the overall usability.

On the subject of usability, ergonomics is a high point for the Kicks. The steering wheel offers a good level of adjustment as do the 6-way manually adjustable seats. The resulting driving position is more hatchback-like, but still offers a good field of view in all directions. Some care is required to properly clear the low-set steering column (we happened to bang our knees against it a couple of times), but once accustomed to it, the rest of the experience is a positive one. Nissan has implemented some high-tech touches in here like the partial digital driver’s display and electronic shifter. In both of these cases, the learning curve is gentle. There are some quirks like how the electronic shifter, even when put in “P” will not automatically engage the electronic parking brake, but overall, it’s easy to get used to them in no time.

As reasonably tech-laden as the Kicks is for the front occupants, the rear passengers won’t be experiencing any of that. Again, its econo-car origins are in full display here with the lack of rear AC vents and center arm rest. But hey, at least everyone gets their own 3-point seat belts, head rests, and there are two USB Type A charging ports. Plus, Nissan’s decision to place the high-voltage battery between the front seats has resulted in an almost flat rear floor, but take note that the rear seat comfort is more akin to a park bench.

Just as generous (space-wise) is the Kicks’s cargo hold. It’s on the large end of the compact crossover range, even if it doesn’t fold flush with the rear seats. It’s also worth reiterating that this SUV doesn’t come with a spare tire, be it a conventional or t-type. With the 12-volt battery placed underneath there, there’s just enough space here for a can of sealant and an air compressor. Elsewhere in the cabin, storage spaces are mostly concentrated to the front occupants with the large door pockets and glovebox, and usable cubby holes. Again, the rear occupants are on the losing end here.

At this point, it’s obvious that the Kicks is a decent, but run-of-the-mill crossover. But then, it manages to turn things around thanks to basically what you find under the hood. As previously mentioned, there’s a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder motor in there, but rather than providing thrust, it acts solely as a generator to the EM47 electric motor. Related to the one found in the all-electric Leaf (EM57), here it makes 136 horsepower and 280 Nm of torque. 0 to 100 km/h takes about 9.7 seconds, but subjectively it feels faster thanks to its peak torque figure available from zero rpm and a single-gear transmission.

Around town, the Kicks is perky, with little need to push deep into the throttle to get some shove in. In fact, you can stay within what the instrument cluster labels as the “Eco” zone and you’ll still manage to keep up with other vehicular traffic. There are some instances where the gas engine turns on by itself for a few seconds, but again, that has nothing to do with what your right foot’s doing (it’s more down to the battery’s charge level). As with most EVs, the powertrain is best experienced in the urban confines. Progress starts to slow once the speeds go up. Nissan rates the top speed at 145 km/h, but anything beyond 110 km/h already feels taxed.

Nissan has also imbued the Kicks with three driving modes, and unlike Toyota’s Hybrid which is largely a drive-and-forget setup, here, it’s actually key to extracting the most range. Left in “Normal” mode, the fuel economy is rather underwhelming for a hybrid: 12.04 km/L. Switching to “Eco” though happens to bump it up to a more reasonable 16.94 km/L in the city. Ultimately, this is down to e-Pedal Step which aggressively recaptures braking energy to the tune of 0.15 to 0.18 g of force. At highway speeds, it doesn’t fair any better. With the gas-powered generator almost always switched on (it sends electrical charge straight to the electric motor, by-passing the on-board lithium-ion battery), it results in just 20 km/L. Although the fuel economy’s still pretty good, it’s worth mentioning that it fails to reach the advertised 22 to 25 km/L figure.

Not being able to beat the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel economy figure is a downer, but at least when it comes to driving chops, the Kicks ends up being the better choice. A big plus is how it already feels responsive in a straight line, but it can also be surprisingly fun and nimble to throw around at city speeds. It’s no canyon carver, but despite being labeled as an urban runabout, it can eat miles with ease. The steering is light, but offers direct and accurate responses. The suspension is tuned for comfort, and for that, provides a well-cushioned ride. It doesn’t crash through pitted or crumbling roads the same way a Corolla Cross does. The same goes for the brake pedal which offers a more natural feel despite its regeneration function.

When it comes to safety, Nissan’s quick to add the “Nissan Intelligent Mobility” label on the Kicks. In reality though, it’s severely lacking in driving aids compared to the company’s previous efforts such as the Terra, Navara, and even Almera. You do get forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and a 360-degree camera with rear parking sensors, but that’s it. Looking for lane departure warning or adaptive cruise control or blind spot indicators? Sorry, you’re out of luck. On one hand, it’s so easy to get spoiled with the sort of safety tech you get standard nowadays (some will even argue you really don’t need them), but since Nissan’s made a big deal marketing these features, at least you’d expect them as standard on this top-trim VL.

Ultimately, Nissan’s decision to withhold key ingredients to the Kicks e-Power holds it back from being the complete compact crossover package. There’s no questioning that the EV-like driving experience, even if it’s charged by a gas engine, is its biggest draw. Sure enough, it’s easy to get blindsided by that. However, when taken as a whole, the Kicks package starts to become lackluster. Not only does it fail to deliver its as-advertised fuel economy figure, but its packaging—be it through safety equipment, specification, or choice of materials, could have been better. As it stands, it’s a good, but not stellar small choice in the compact crossover segment.

2022 Nissan Kicks e-POWER VL

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Ownership 2022 Nissan Kicks e-POWER VL
Year Introduced 2022
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.2
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-3
BHP @ rpm 136 @ 3,410-9,697 (EM47 Electric Motor)
Nm @ rpm 280 @ 0,000-3,410 (EM47 Electric Motor)
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission Single Speed
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 15.15 km/L @ 14 km/h,
16.39 km/L @ 21 km/h,
20 km/L @ 76 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,300
Width (mm) 1,760
Height (mm) 1,615
Wheelbase (mm) 2,620
Curb Weight (kg) 1,359
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Dunlop Enasave EC300+ 205/55 R 17 V (f &r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, 360-degree
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Forward Collision Warning
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Driver Attention Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
USB Type C
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. The VE is more sensible at its price

  2. As being a hybrid, is the Nissan Kicks better than like a Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid?

    1. If you're after fuel efficiency, the Corolla Cross. If you're after driving fun, the Kicks.

  3. How it its fuel economy compared to the Toyota Raize 1.0 Turbo?

    1. During our tests, the Raize Turbo managed 12.1 km/L:

      So the Kicks still has the advantage.

  4. Nissan removed some features in its ADAS to make the Kicks SUV affordable..They've focused mostly on AEB which is the most important feature of its ADAS.
    Mid level Kicks is kinda hard to find as most dealers are only selling are low and high end variants.

    1. Yeah...but for a company that spent so much on marketing Nissan Intelligent Mobility you would have expected more NIM tech to make its way to the Kicks, especially the high-end variant. The low and mid-trim variant, it's understandable to remove features.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. WTF is this mod removing comments?!?

    2. I have removed your comments because you’re posting links to another video. I will answer your questions later.

      - Uly

    3. Ok. Anyway, my point was that many YT vids showed significantly quicker 0-100 acceleration times & higher electronically-limited top speeds. So I was wondering if we got the detuned 3rd-world version of the AC synchro motor. Cringe.

    4. AFAIK, the engine isn't de-tuned. It's the very same EM47 used by the Kicks in other markets.

      As for the 0 to 100 km/h time, it varies. Nissan hasn't given an official figure yet, but it ranges from 8.8 to 9.7 seconds. In any case, it feels faster than either of those two figures. In my experience though, it starts to lose momentum above 110 to 120 km/h.

      As for your comment about NIM, yes, the blind spot indicators would have been a nice addition as the Raize/Avanza/Veloz already have them.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Uly, is inserting YT links not allowed in the comments section? Why did 2 of my comments here get removed?

    1. No, we're not allowing comments to anything outside of here.

  8. Single transmission? I saw people saying in another article here that it has no transmission. How does that work? Does it still have maintenance by replacing the ATF?

    1. There's no transmission connected to the internal combustion engine, but there's still a single reduction gear used by the electric motor. If there's no transmission, there's no way for power to be sent to the drive wheels.

      It coverts the high rpms of the EV motor to something more usable by everyday cars. It also acts as the reverse gear by simply spinning in the opposite direction.

    2. Mhay Ghad. This dude should read up a little more on EVs before asking such an inane question. If it has no transmission the wheels & tires would be spinning at 9000+ RPM! Lulz! 🤪

  9. Hmmm, I expect the Kicks will be more efficient especially in the city. Anyway as you've mentioned, Kicks is more powerful but the Corolla Cross is more fuel efficient.

    1. And the Kicks is also more affordable...

    2. Yeah, neither is perfect. It all boils down to: do you want something more fuel efficient or something that's better to drive. If only Nissan put a tad more features to the Kicks, it would have been the clear winner. I would put in things like more safety equipment and adaptive cruise control.

    3. Exactly Uly. I wouldn't even mind the absence of lane departure warning/lane intervention or auto high beam, but a cruise control (let alone, an adaptive one) reduces driving fatigue significantly. Very helpful on expressways.

  10. Uly, have you tested the pure EV mode? How long can it go before the gas engine activates and charges the battery, assuming you start with the battery at full charge? I hope its not as gimmicky as in the Toyotas where it couldn't even run a full kilometer on EV mode without the gas engine kicking in.

    Also, how much does it cost to replace the battery on this thing after the warranty expires? The inverter? The AC motor? Even after the warranty expires you would still be tied to the casa for PMS since your local talyer won't be touching this vehicle with a 10-foot pole. This would have poor resale value after 5 years especially if you would try selling this without replacing the battery first. Constant charging & discharging of lithium-ion batteries is not good for its longevity.

    1. Fully charged, the pure EV range of the Kicks e-Power is roughly around 2 kilometers...but that's not the most economical way to drive it. The best would be to engage the Eco mode (which automatically increases the brake regen).

      As for the warranty, the bumper-to-bumper warranty for the Kicks e-Power is 5 years. The battery is the most expensive part which some dealers quote at about P 400K to replace. But because there's an on-board motor to charge it, the lithium-ion battery is supposed to last the lifetime of the Kicks. You'll probably see a degradation in terms of range though.

  11. Uly, would this or the Raize 1.0 Turbo be a better alternative for daily city driving (including NLEX and grocery runs)?

    1. Entirely different. If you could afford the Kicks, it would be the better option but not necessarily because of its fuel economy but because of its overall comfort and refinement compared to the Raize.

  12. "It’s not exactly a head-turner style-wise and some would even argue it looks dated already"

    Because it resembles the third generation x-trail from 2013, especially on the rear end.

  13. Just wanted to share. Drove my kicks around Baguio midday today with average city traffic (heavy rain and fog as bonuses) and got 21.1km/L as my best fuel efficiency on Eco mode.


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