Heads turned when we pulled into the Car Showroom garage in our Nissan Juke. Nissan’s British-sourced crossover is that sort of car – you get noticed.
And that’s a good thing in today’s super-competitive crossover segment.
But the segment is even tougher in Europe, the Juke’s home. Good news is the Juke is selling in big numbers there as buyers in crowded European cities look for the SUV-like space and convenience but with dimensions affording easy maneuverability and parking.
Isn’t that what Aussie families are looking for too?
Nissan Juke Overview
We scored the range-topping Nissan Juke Ti-S which brings the extra grunt of the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, all-wheel-drive and a multi-link rear suspension system. It’s a five-seat compact SUV or crossover to use the current terminology.
The Ti-S model is priced at $32,190, but the Juke lineup starts at $21,990. Across the model range, Nissan has the Juke very sharply priced.
Launch of the Juke heralded sweeping all-new models for Nissan’s SUV lineup (apart from the Patrol). The Pathfinder and X-TRAIL are all-new and the Dualis replaced by the Qashqui (the name it always had in overseas markets).
Nissan Juke is made at the award-winning plant in Sunderland north England so you know the quality is top-notch and it has scored the maximum five-star safety rating from NCAP.
Nissan Juke Engine
Nissan Juke shares its powerplant with the sporty Pulsar SSS. That would be Nissan’s MR16DDT turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine.
And, as you expect from Nissan, it’s a pearler.
Maximum power is 140kW at 5600rpm and peak torque of 240Nm is delivered between 2000-5200rpm.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is a rated at 7.4l/100kms.
The Nissan Juke Ti-S drives all four wheels via Nissan’s Torque Vectoring AWD system and XTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Nissan Juke The Interior
Nissan Juke delivers a nicely styled, modern interior although perhaps surprisingly, there is only rake adjustment for the steering wheel (no reach adjustment). It’s a five-seater – with the current model changes the all-new X-TRAIL becomes Nissan’s smaller-size seven-seat SUV.
There’s a handily-sized leather-wrapped steering wheel and the usual high-grade Nissan instrumentation. To the left is the five-inch colour display for the satellite navigation system (standard in Ti-S) and six-speaker audio system.
Front seats aren’t the largest we’ve sampled and could do a with a bit more support. The Car Showroom juniors were happy enough in the rear which has legroom dimensions similar to rivals.
The rear seat split-folds 60:40 for long loads and cargo space is reasonable.
As well as that five-inch colour display, the Nissan Juke Ti-S adds leather seats (fronts heated), keyless push-button start, Bluetooth integration, auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Nissan Juke Exterior & Styling
Without exception mates who scoffed at the looks of the Nissan Juke pointed to the headlights. We don’t buy that – we reckon Nissan’s stylists have broken out of the rut the rest of the industry seems to be in when designing front ends.
The Juke is hip and funky and in many ways very ‘un-Nissan’.
Ride height is high (ground clearance is 180mm) but at 4135mm in length, the compact Nissan Juke can get into tight spaces the full-size Nissan Patrol can only dream of. And the Juke’s deceiving height is compounded by the high window line (high widow line in a compact SUV?...as we said this thing is funky).
And while the front-end style commands a lot of comments, the rear is also ‘out of the box’ with prominent bulges and equally ground-breaking tail-lights.
Nissan Juke On The Road
It was raining when we collected the Juke from Nissan and hardly stopped during the week we had it. Luckily we scored the Ti-S all-wheel-drive model.
And luckily the Nissan Juke is comfortable because on one day our normal 40 minute return trip from Melbourne Airport turned into two hour nightmare thanks to a peak hour truck snafu near the Bolte Bridge. But that’s why we buy crossovers like the Nissan Juke – when you-know-what happens, they’re practical and easy to live with.
Like the torrential rain which washed-out Saturday sport for the Car Showroom juniors – no worries we just headed across the boggy grass/mud with the Juke’s 4WD providing traction and sporting equipment was tossed inside without needing to be too ‘precious’ about the interior.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the Nissan Juke Ti-S with that 4WD grip and multi-link rear suspension gave a good account. Firm and sporty in the European way, the Juke pointed and steered nicely.
Of course there was no surprise Nissan’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine was fast and responsive. In fact we sort of wished the Ti-S came with the six-speed manual transmission fitted to the lower grade ST-S (Nissan’s CVT auto is one of the better ones…but performance drivers will know what we mean).
Around town too, the Nissan Juke never let us down – spirited acceleration when needed for freeway merging and easy parking thanks to a handy 10.7-metre turning circle and rear-view camera.
Nissan Juke Challenges
Driven in England or continental Europe lately? If you have, you’ll know European cars ride a bit firmer than Asian or Aussie cars and the Juke is no exception (we like it that way but some may not).
We do deduct some points from the Juke for its interior. Good-looking and practical without doubt, but the range-topping Ti-S we tested could be a bit more upscale to match say the Subaru XV 2.0i-S.
Nissan Juke Verdict
Put us down as fans of the Nissan Juke. We like the looks (but we acknowledge the made-in-England crossover isn’t everyone’s cup of tea).
And we like the drive – highlighted by Nissan’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine which is one of our favourites. And the extra grip of all-paw traction is a handy ally in wet conditions.
However in all likelihood, most buyers will judge crossovers on their practicality and in that department the Nissan Juke certainly ranks with the best. Sure, like its rivals, the Juke won’t conquer the bush tracks like a Y61 Patrol…but try taking a full-size SUV down a narrow city laneway and you’ll be wishing you were driving a Juke.
That’s the point of these sorts of vehicles – ‘SUV-ish’ in looks and seating positions but without the bulk. And with interiors which are versatile, practical and up the task of family life without being too ‘precious’.
We’d happily have a Nissan Juke in our garage permanently as a ‘family driver’.
Nissan Juke The Competition
While the Juke is from England, a likely rival is the ‘born in the USA’ Jeep Compass. The range-topper is the well-equipped ‘Limited’ model, which at $34,500 is a tad pricier than the Juke Ti-S. Jeep’s 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine is good for 125kW/220Nm and, like the Juke, it drives all four wheels via a CVT automatic transmission. While there are some styling cues from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Compass is individual and not as radical as the Juke.
The XV has been a massive sales success for Subaru. Very nicely styled and beautifully screwed together in the Subaru way, the XV is great to drive although a little underpowered compared to the Nissan Juke with 110kW/196Nm from Subaru’s naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre ‘Boxer’ engine. The range-topping, all-wheel-drive 2.0i-S (CVT auto) is priced at $36,990.
Mitsubishi’s ASX is one of the best styling jobs in the current Mitsubishi lineup but is a tad plain compared to Nissan Juke or Subaru XV. The range-topping Aspire ($33,490) gets Mitsubishi’s 124kW/197Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine driving all four wheels via a CVT automatic transmission.