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Nissan Kicks revealed in Asia with far better looks

In Thailand, the Kicks will also get Nissan's e-power powertrain.

That's much better.

Nissan

The Nissan Kicks is a surprise favorite small crossover among many Roadshow staffers, but if there's one area we can all agree needs improvement, it's the design. It seems Nissan perhaps knew that as well, and on Friday, the new Nissan Kicks bowed in Thailand.

We have to underscore that it's not clear if these updates will reflect changes for the US model, but it seems highly likely. Nissan declined to comment on the changes readied for Thailand. Nevertheless, it's probably a very safe bet we'll see these looks soon, and look at the improvements on display here.

The rear is largely the same, but there's less plastic cladding, which helps a lot.

Nissan

The design updates basically erase the budget looks of the current Kicks with a more attractive fascia and the latest take on the company's V-Motion grille. It looks a lot like the handsome Nissan Altima -- a good thing. The rear sees fewer changes, but the lower portion of the bumper adds the body color to it, which nixes some of the plastic cladding that looks a tad cheap on the current model. Overall, they're little things that make a really big difference.

Inside, it looks like designers took the time to give the cabin a more upscale vibe, too. We've seen major improvements in Nissan interiors recently -- take a look at the 2020 Sentra -- and it appears the Kicks will follow this trend. New switches and knobs look far more fresh, but the main infotainment screen looks to be the same.

What's almost certainly not coming to the US is the e-power powertrain launched in Thailand with the new Kicks. It combines a gasoline engine, a power generator, an inverter lithium-ion battery and an electric motor, but the engine never directly powers the wheels. Instead, the engine and generator make electricity for the battery. And when the driver decelerates, the e-power setup sends all extra energy back to the battery to make it more efficient. 

Instead, it seems reasonable the US Kicks will stick with a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter inline-four engine and a CVT.

This year could be a busy one with at least one major Nissan confirmed to debut despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We'll see the next-generation Rogue and perhaps the Kicks will show up, too. All of it comes amid major restructuring plans brewing within Nissan that could see it scale back focus on a number of world markets.

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