If you are a young driver looking for a first car that’s small, practical and sensible, you would get a compact hatchback, like a Honda Jazz.
However, drivers nowadays want a little bit more – more style, more space, and more substance. Consequently, crossovers have become the popular choice among buyers.
And if it’s practicality and long-term affordability you are after, then the Nissan Kicks e-POWER and Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid should be at the top of your shopping list.
NISSAN KICKS VS TOYOTA YARIS CROSS: FUNKY OR TIMELESS?
Design-wise, the Yaris Cross is undeniably bold and out there. Where Toyotas of the past could be criticised for being visually bland, no one can say that about the Yaris Cross Hybrid.
But is it nice-looking? That probably comes down to taste. It is attention-grabbing, though.
The Nissan Kicks e-POWER plays it safe with its boxier and more functional design. I personally prefer this more “traditional” look.
Both cars interiors’ are as different as night and day.
The Nissan Kicks features plenty of soft-touch Nappa leather on most of the key touch points. There’s also a 7-inch TFT screen on the instrument cluster that can be used to display key driving information.
The 8-inch infotainment system isn’t the best as far as design is concerned, but it works well enough. It also comes with Apple CarPlay.
The Yaris Cross, on the other hand, is a notch below when it comes to quality. It starts from the materials and general feel of the cabin. With plenty of plastics and the cardboard-like door cards, it feels like a cheaper space than the Kicks.
The instrument cluster, while digitised, doesn’t look quite as neat as the Nissan’s. And, I find the area where the window controls are located to be quite cumbersome and unergonomic in the Yaris Cross.
That said, Toyota’s money appears to have been spent on equipment. There’s a head-up display and more safety features than the Kicks. The air-con is remarkably cold, too.
In terms of space, the Kicks e-POWER is the slightly bigger crossover. With a 60mm longer wheelbase, the Kicks has a more spacious backseat. Meanwhile, access to the Yaris Cross’ backseat is more restrictive due to the smaller opening angle of the rear doors.
The Kicks’ boot capacity is also larger than the Yaris Cross, with 423 litres versus 390 litres.
That said, the Yaris Cross is undeniably superior is when it comes to the hybrid powertrain and straight up efficiency.
Driven sensibly, you can expect to better the Yaris Cross’ on-paper figure of 26.3km/L. I even managed 27.5km/L.
In the Kicks e-POWER, I managed to I achieved 17.5km/L, which isn’t too bad. But it’s really a long way off from the Yaris Cross Hybrid’s benchmark.
This does not mean that the e-POWER system isn’t good. In fact, it’s the more powerful system in the Group Test.
It doesn’t quite feel like the 260Nm of instantaneous torque that Nissan quotes. But the Kicks definitely builds speed in a more urgent fashion than the Yaris Cross, which has 110hp and 141Nm of torque.
However, because the Yaris Cross is 110kg lighter, its initial pickup is a tad sprightlier than its rival’s.
The Kicks is also more refined where noise is concerned. Overall sound insulation is better, and the engine doesn’t sound as harsh as the Yaris Cross when pushed hard.
As far as driveability is concerned, both cars are quite similar. At high speeds, the Yaris Cross is more composed than the Nissan. The Kicks tends to bobble up and down over small tarmac imperfections a little too much for my liking.
However, at low speeds, the Kicks’ lighter steering makes it easier to manoeuvre through carparks.
Of note, the Kicks e-POWER offers “one-pedal driving”, which lets you come to a complete stop on regenerative braking alone. I like that, but I know drivers for whom it is a complete deal-breaker.
Overall, the Yaris Cross has significantly better fuel efficiency, but I prefer the way the Kicks drives.
Coming into this Group Test, I thought the two cars would be equally matched. They are direct competitors whose on-paper differences are not that significant.
However, after driving them back-to-back, I found their differences to be quite stark.
If fuel economy is your key consideration, then the Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid is the easy and obvious choice. Toyota’s hybrid system delivers exceptional fuel economy that no one else in the market can quite match right now.
It also has more safety systems, and feels a little more traditional to drive since it doesn’t have quite the same regenerative braking force as the Kicks.
That said, for my money, I would take the Nissan Kicks e-POWER. It is more spacious, the interior feels more high-quality, and I actually prefer the way it drives.
Its fuel efficiency may lag behind that of the Yaris Cross. But it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make for a crossover that delivers a better quality of life.
Nissan Kicks e-POWER 1.2 (A)
ENGINE 1198cc, 12-valves, inline-3
ELECTRIC MOTOR AC Synchronous
MAX POWER 127hp (95kW)
MAX TORQUE 260Nm
POWER TO WEIGHT 97.7hp per tonne
GEARBOX Single-speed reduction gear
0-100KM/H 9.7 seconds
TOP SPEED 145km/h
CONSUMPTION 21.7km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $106,888 (after $10k VES rebate)
AGENT Tan Chong Motor Sales
Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid 1.5 (A)
ENGINE 1490cc, 12-valves, inline-3, hybrid
ENGINE POWER 91hp at 5500rpm
ENGINE TORQUE 120Nm at 3600-4800rpm
ELECTRIC MOTOR POWER 79hp
ELECTRIC MOTOR TORQUE 141Nm
TOTAL SYSTEM POWER 110hp
POWER TO WEIGHT 92.4hp per tonne
0-100KM/H 11.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 170km/h
CONSUMPTION 26.3km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $109,888 (after $15k VES rebate)
AGENT Borneo Motors
Click here to learn more about the Nissan Kicks e-POWER
Head here to discover the Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid
Click here for our Nissan Kicks e-POWER review
Read our Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid review here