The facelifted Nissan Kicks is a victim of the coronavirus. No, the B-segment SUV did not contract Covid-19, but its launch plan has been affected by the global pandemic. Kena quarantine, so to speak.

Nissan’s original idea was to give the Kicks facelift a world debut in Thailand on March 19, simultaneously launching the car in the Thai market with an e-Power drivetrain. But we all know what happened next – the novel coronavirus went on a world tour of death and economic destruction, claiming lives and jobs along the way. It’s ongoing, and no one knows when it’ll peak.

But life must go on, and according to Headlightmag, the Kicks facelift will now have its world premiere in Thailand in May, before the Kicks minorchange is launched in Japan in June. The Japan-market Kicks e-Power will be imported from Thailand, the report adds.

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Looks wise, from what we can see, the Kicks has received a much larger front grille, flanked by headlamps that are significantly sharper and slimmer. The more aggressive fascia is complemented by deep sculpted side “air intakes” cum fog lamp clusters at the extreme edges of the bumper.

The floating roof effect from the blacked out C pillars and contrasting coloured roof have been present since the Kicks was launched in 2016, but the wheels are new. The rear end appears largely similar except for the bumper, which now has a very wide (almost full length) diffuser section painted in body colour.

Nissan’s e-Power system isn’t new and has been used in cars such as the Note hatchback and Serena MPV. It’s not the usual hybrid system, nor a full EV – the range extender system employs a petrol engine that acts solely as a generator for the electric motor. The ICE is not connected to the driven wheels, unlike regular hybrids. Nissan says that this system provides the benefits of an electric motor – such as maximum torque from standstill – without the accompanying range anxiety.

Pre-facelift Nissan Kicks

Like the Note e-Power, the Kicks e-Power will have a 1.2L three-cylinder petrol engine as generator. The trusty HR12DE with 79 hp/103 Nm powers the EM57 electric motor with 129 hp/254 Nm, which is rated higher than the Note e-Power’s 109 PS/254 Nm.

The Kicks, which will rival the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR, is 4,384 mm long and 1,813 mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2,673 mm. That’s 90 mm longer, 41 mm wider and 63 mm longer between the wheels than the popular Honda.

Coming to Malaysia? Back in 2018, Nissan’s Malaysian distributor Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) was reported to have the Kicks in its future plans, and the B-SUV was mentioned again by ETCM in April 2019.

The plan was to have the Kicks here after the introduction of the N18 Nissan Almera. Given that the all-new B-segment sedan is yet to surface, it should be awhile more before the Kicks does. There might be some delays brought about by Covid-19, too.

When it finally does reach Malaysia, will the Kicks have e-Power? Perhaps, but we won’t be surprised if ETCM selects regular naturally aspirated power. Thailand is getting more advanced and cleaner tech due to incentives dished out by the government to carmakers, and unless Malaysia has an equivalent programme, there’s no motivation for carmakers to sell cars with more advanced powertrains, which of course increases their cost and your purchase price.

For similar reasons, the upcoming new Honda City and Nissan Almera might not launch here with the eco car spec 1.0 litre downsized turbo engines seen in Thailand, but with more conventional engines instead. Novel range extender powertrain aside, what do you think of the Nissan Kicks?

GALLERY: 2018 Nissan Kicks, US market