In a newly published video by Nissan Malaysia (Edaran Tan Chong Motor), there were notably a few interesting models that have not seen the light of day in Malaysia, leading us to believe there are at least a couple of cars coming our way.
Everyone seems to have some kind of promotional thing for CNY each year, right? And in 2022, Malaysia (the world, even) seems to be getting a grip on this whole pandemic business. This is perhaps why the opening text reads “For 2 years, we waited in the shade.”
You know, like a tiger.
The minute-long video (480p max resolution. In 2022. Come on….) then proceeds to roll a montage of people having a roaring good time in various Nissan vehicles, intercut with in-motion exterior beauty shots of the same. Particular emphasis was given to the all-new Almera and Navara with smaller cameos by the other existing models like the Leaf and even the GT-R.
However, early on, we see the Kicks - Nissan’s B-segment crossover that has curiously eluded us until now - and in particular the version with the automaker’s very interesting e-Power drivetrain which seeks to blends the benefits and efficiency gains of an EV with the flexibility of a combustion engine. Since it appeared in this low-res video first, let’s spend a few minutes on it….first.
In ASEAN, our neighbours in Thailand first got their hands on the Kicks in May 2020 before it was brought to Indonesia later that year. Yes, as an e-Power hybrid. And yes, that means Malaysia is late to the party yet again, by a couple of years this time.
Those who managed to attend the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS) in 2018 might have remembered the Note e-Power being shown off. It drew quite a large crowd too. The e-Power series hybrid system functions much like Honda’s i-MMD, except Nissan brought it to market first.
The petrol engine, in the case of the Kicks a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated 3-cylinder, is used to spin a generator that stores the resulting electricity in a lithium-ion battery pack, from which an electric motor derives power to directly drive the wheels.
It’s quite a punchy unit too, delivering 130PS and 260Nm to the front wheels, and making it slightly more powerful than the i-MMD in, say, the City Hatchback.
From the driver’s perspective, the immediacy and low-speed silence of the powertrain is identical to that of a fully electric vehicle, but instead of having to (hunt for and) plug into a charger to replenish a depleted battery (after a lengthy wait), they’ll just need to top off the fuel tank as normal. Nissan claims an average of 4.6-litres/100km in everyday driving.
Now, onto the Ariya. This is Nissan’s flagship EV, a fully electric crossover that should lock horns with the Tesla Model Y that, as of now, has not even begun production due to delays caused by chip shortages and the Covid-19 pandemic in general.
ETCM teasing it here could mean that Malaysia could be one of the first markets to receive the EV once mass production does commence later this year. Of course, it’ll be fully imported and most likely available only in limited quantities.
If the Leaf’s aim was to get as many early adopters onboard with fully electric vehicles, the Ariya is here to make a statement. It’s abnormally sleek, futuristic, and luxurious - basically a showcase of Nissan’s capabilities with zero emissions tech.
Battery sizes come in either 65kWh or 90kWh with up to 390PS on tap from its dual electric motors for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.1 seconds. Meanwhile, its claimed maximum range can reach 500km depending on which configuration is chosen.
Do bear in mind, however, that this video was also uploaded to Nissan Indonesia’s Youtube channel (also in terrible 480p), so we’re not the only ones likely to be getting new models. Nissan Singapore has been teasing the arrival of the Ariya for months, for example.
While the Ariya is the more impressive machine on paper, it’s the Kicks e-Power’s potential Malaysian launch that’s going to cause more of a stir, especially if priced to annoy the City RS and City Hatchback RS.
Nissan’s flagship electric model won’t be positioned anywhere as affordably despite the various incentives and mostly tax-free status of new EVs.
That aside, most Malaysians are still hesitant to switch to EVs even if they could afford it, what with the everyday impracticalities that stem from a lack of a widespread charging infrastructure as well as the shortcomings inherent to today’s EVs such as long wait times between charges and battery degradation.
Hybrid powertrains such as Nissan’s e-Power and Honda’s i-MMD make much more sense to a much larger portion of motorists, especially ones seeking to reap the benefits of electrification.
One question does remain, though: Can the Nissan Kicks, once launched in Malaysia, depend solely on the e-Power hybrid or would a pure combustion powertrain need to be offered alongside it if Nissan is to compete with the other B-segment SUVs currently on sale?
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.