Lovers of small hatchbacks like Nissan’s Micra and Versa Note will have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years, their cancellations.
The same has happened with most manufacturers, with Toyota having dropped its Yaris, Honda having nixed its Fit, Ford having axed its Fiesta (and Focus), and the list going on. All of the above have increased their allotment of small crossover SUVs, however, which on the surface seems as if we’re not all that concerned about fuel economy after all.
Fortunately, most of these new crossover SUVs are merely front-wheel drive economy cars on steroids. The various brands have slightly raised their suspensions and rooflines, sometimes making them more accommodating inside, but all come standard with front-wheel drivetrains and equally efficient powerplants, some not even offering all-wheel drive at all.
Yes, the concept of purchasing a new car for under $10k is now history, the Micra having sold for a measly $9,988 back in 2018 (albeit $10,488 in 2019, its last year of availability here), with even the previously cheaper Mitsubishi Mirage now selling for $13,858. While new car buyers can still purchase Chevy’s Spark for only $10,398, this now the lowest priced new vehicle in Canada, the least expensive Nissan, the Versa sedan, has crept up to $16,498, which while pricey compared to the old Versa Note or Micra, is still a great deal more affordable than Toyota’s least expensive car, its Corolla now starting at $19,350, or Honda’s Civic, now the Japanese brand’s entry-level offering at $23,400. That’s pricier than the $23,490 Mini Cooper 3-Door, which is considered (by some) to be premium.
This makes Nissan’s entry-level hatchback seem very affordable. The Kicks SUV is that vehicle, and with a starting price of $19,898 (plus freight and fees), up $500 from last year, it’s one of three Nissan models priced under $20k (the impressive new Sentra can be had for a bit less at $19,198).
For that extra $500, Nissan has grafted a big, imposing grille on the front of its smallest crossover, and for the most part we feel it looks quite good. Its chromed surround flows elegantly upwards and outward toward sharply chiselled headlamps, while a fresh set of LED fog lights are located just beneath, at least when viewing the Kicks’ sportiest top-line SR trim. Updates aren’t as noticeable at each side or hind end, the former featuring a new set of LED turn signals within revised side mirror housings, and the latter adding a reworked bumper cap.
The slight price increase also includes new standard features such as auto on/off headlamps, heated exterior mirrors, and a rear wiper/washer, while changes to the cabin include a new standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When moving up to mid-range SV and top-line SR trims, the display gets upsized to 8.0 inches in diameter, with additional features including a leather-clad steering wheel and shift knob, a single-zone auto HVAC system, and a Bose audio upgrade.
The Kicks’ 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine makes a reasonably peppy 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque, which means it wasn’t changed as part of the refresh. Likewise, its continuously variable transmission (CVT) remains standard too, resulting in the identical a fuel economy rating to last year: 7.7 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 7.2 combined with its sole front-wheel drivetrain.
The 2021 Kicks also comes well equipped with advanced standard safety and convenience features such as automatic emergency braking, rear auto braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and auto high-beam assistance. The move up to SV or SR trims includes driver alert monitoring plus a rear door alert system that warns the driver when something (or someone) may still be in the rear seating area after parking, while top-tier SR Premium trim adds an overhead camera system.
Nissan is currently offering the 2021 Kicks with up to $750 in additional incentives, while CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $1,000 when purchasing a new Kicks, thanks to information about manufacturer rebates (when available), factory leasing and financing deals (when offered), and dealer invoice pricing. Be sure to download our free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all this critical money saving info available when you need it most.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Nissan