NASHVILLE -- Nissan appears ready to jump into the subcompact crossover segment in the U.S. with the Versa-sized Kicks.
The company has not officially disclosed plans for the crossover, but the vehicle has been spotted road-testing near the automaker's U.S. r&d center in Farmington Hills, Mich.
The Kicks will extend Nissan's lineup to compete against the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 subcompact crossovers. Nissan has the Juke subcompact crossover, which has a lower, hatchbacklike profile than the Kicks. The Rogue Sport, slightly smaller than the Rogue compact crossover, will debut this spring as a Japanese import.
But the Juke was never intended to appeal to the lower-end U.S. mass market, as the Kicks will be. The Juke's marketing push has always been as a sporty vehicle, pitched mainly to single men.
According to company sources, the smaller Kicks will be built at Nissan's plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where the Versa is produced, and reach U.S. showrooms as early as the first of next year.
Nissan originally presented the Kicks concept as a product for South American markets, with a plan to produce it in Brazil. That plan remains, but Mexico will take the larger role in exporting the vehicle globally, including to the U.S.