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The game is on as Nissan battles it out against the bigwigs with the Kicks. But has Hyundai moved the goal post already?
Classic theories, based on solid research suggest that human beings exert the maximum effort and deliver the best results possible when put under pressure. To prove this hypothesis, scholars analysed 33 NBA seasons and realised that teams generally performed better when it was an elimination round. Similar is the case with Nissan’s India operations. Over the years, their dated line-up has been receiving extremely poor responses from the consumers. The latest and final trump card in Nissan’s game, the Kicks was launched a few months ago. Unlike the European Kicks which is based on the Micra’s platform, the Indian Kicks has been asked to make do with the tried-and-tested Duster platform. Can it take the fight to the segment leader, Hyundai Creta which has been smothering the competition by consistently being sold in 7000-9000 numbers every month?
After the not so exciting iteration of Duster in the form of Renault Captur, Kicks comes as a breath of fresh air. There is no way you can tell if it’s a Duster under the skin. Every cut and slash looks perfect and nothing seems out of place, not even the wheel arches. The functionality still remains as the Kicks gets a 210mm ground clearance and nicely designed 17-inchers on this top-of-the-line variant. But that does not mean the Creta looks bad. We see so many Cretas all around that the eyes are now tired of the design language. Round one goes to the Kicks then. Similar is the story on the inside. Except the AC vents and knobs, nothing resembles the Duster’s dashboard. The interiors are put together well and the quality of materials is fabulous in the Kicks. The build quality is good but not as great as the Hyundai. And who can go up against the Koreans when it comes to features?
Options. There are a lot of them when it comes to the Creta. You can choose between two diesels and one petrol. The 1.6-litre diesel and petrol also come with the option of an auto ‘box. We are testing the 1.6-litre diesel that churns out a healthy 126bhp and 260Nm, thanks to its VGT. And it’s no slow poke! During our Vbox tests, it managed to hit 100kmph in just 10.6sec! Straight line battles are pretty one sided, when it comes to racing against Kicks, which still comes with the old K9K diesel and an option of 1.5-litre petrol. Automatic isn’t provided even as an option for now, and neither is 4WD. The K9K too comes with a VGT, making 108.5bhp and 240Nm. The turbo kicks in in the err, Kicks at 1750rpm unlike 1500rpm in the Creta and the G-spot is actually found between 2700-3200rpm. The Creta on the other hand is extremely linear and quick throughout the rev range. The Kicks managed to hit 100kmph in 13sec, which is almost 2.5sec slower than the Creta, thanks to additional weight of almost 100kg. Can’t beat the Creta in this round, can you?
Another department in which both these two are as different as chalk and cheese is with ride and handling . The Kicks retains the Duster’s brilliant ride quality and tops it over with dollops of sophistication thanks to its new found dampening. The ride is definitely stiffer as compared to the Creta and the Kicks but even typical desi dual carriageways with generous amount of potholes are tackled with ease. The Kicks feels like a proper SUV in its road manners, be it the old-school hydraulic steering or the surefootedness when soft roading. The handling is lovely too, helped by the steering wheel that provides more feedback than your 80-year-old grandfather. However, the SUV-ness hampers its drivability in city, exactly where the Creta shines. The Hyundai is bouncy and light on its feet, the steering is lifeless too but the whole package shines when you’re doing the commute to office. The ergonomics definitely add to the package and the Creta drives like a large hatchback on stilts.
It all finally boils down to the ultimate question. Which one should you spend your hard earned money on? If you’re an enthusiast and crave the Thrill of Driving, go for the Kicks, for it comes with the raw nature of the Duster and combines it with a dose of sophistication that only the Europeans deliver. The engine may not be as refined as the Creta’s, it’s not as powerful either, but the hydraulic steering and ride quality would urge you to go faster corner after corner. However, you cannot take the credit away from the Creta. It still reigns supreme thanks to its ‘posh’ feel. The interiors feel premium and the long list of features adds to the appeal. The engine is a gem and the car-like feel would appeal to the fairer sex as well. Summing it up, it’s clearly a matter of head or heart. Go either ways and you won’t really go wrong.