Prospective buyers are now offered with the option of choosing between two BS6-compliant petrol engine options. The first and the familiar one is the 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine, which comes mated to a manual gearbox only. Then, there's this new 1.3-litre turbocharged unit that produces 154bhp of power and 254Nm of torque making it one of the most powerful SUVs in its class. This HR13 DDT four-cylinder engine is a product of the Nissan-Renault alliance with Daimler's collaboration. It features a turbo that uses Nissan GTR’s mirror bore coating tech to reduce friction. And to better the responses, this engine also boasts of an electrically controlled waste gate, high pressure direction injection, and variable cams. And this mill is available with either a six-speed manual (on test here) or a CVT automatic.
Press the clutch and then push the engine start button. The motor whirs up to a start with an audible note at idle. It's certainly not one of the most refined petrol engines available today but still has low NVH levels. And before you get used to the clutch setting, you might stall the engine a couple of times. But there’s now an auto start/stop mechanism that covers up for this and quickly starts it again. It also responds well to modulation in throttle inputs. However, the turbo-lag is evident at low revs and you'll only feel a shove post 2,000rpm. From here till around 3,500-4,000rpm is the sweet spot to really have fun and that’s when you feel you're in the meat of the power-band. Once in this mid-range, the SUV makes quick progress to reach triple-digit speeds. It redlines at 6,000rpm but the punchy feel is till around 5,500rpm. Overtaking is easy too, if the engine is in its mid-range. Yes, the notchy gearshifts and heavy clutch do take away the fun of quick-shifting. But thankfully, it slots in correctly with well-defined gates, short throws, and a short travel.
Now our V-Box Tests are a good indicator of drivability and performance, so we put the Kicks under this test-cycle. In terms of straight pulling power, the 0-100kmph was clocked in 10.24 seconds. A respectable time that could have been faster if the revs were not limited and traction control could be switched off for a better launch. Then, when it came to the crucial test of driveability, the 20-80kmph in third gear was completed in 9.41 seconds and the 40-100kmph run in fourth gear was accomplished in 12.51 seconds. These are good figures solely due to the sufficient power and abundant torque available from this new engine. It makes it quite a stunner.