Nissan Juke review - soft-roading pioneering gains a cutting edge
Finding out if there’s substance beneath the style of the all-new version of Nissan’s groundbreaking crossover
When it launched this all-new Juke, Nissan made a big deal about the loyalty of its customers.
There was talk of how drivers returned time and again to buy a Nissan, passing the habit down the generations.
And the PR team highlighted one such soul to gathered journalists. Patricia, apparently, has owned Nissans since the 1970s and was among the first people to take delivery of the latest Juke.
I’m sure Patricia thought carefully before putting down her money on this latest new model but I’m also sure she couldn’t care less about how sporty the new Juke is. She, I suspect, has ordered one because she’s a fan of Nissans and is one of the many people who love its distinctive looks.
That’s a bit of a shame for Nissan’s marketers as almost every second word at the press launch seemed to be “sporty”. From the turbocharged engine to the chassis tuning, styling, and even the 19-inch alloys - everything is, apparently, sporty.
In reality, the striking looks and Alcantara trim option aside, there’s not much sporty about the Juke. That’s not necessarily a criticism and is unlikely to bother most buyers but it’s not what the marketing bods would have you believe.
Based on the CMF-B platform, this Juke is genuinely all new and features elements such as active trace control which make it far better to drive than the old one. On the road, it’s steady and solid, much like the rest of the B-SUV segment. It’s not a market that demands on-the-edge thrills and the Juke’s moderate body roll and uncommunicative steering are on a par with most of its rivals. More important is how it rides and here the Juke acquits itself better, sprung with enough softness to breeze over even sharp speed bumps but not so baggy that it loses composure.
At launch the Juke comes with just one engine. Nissan are cagey about what else might follow but the platform is capable of taking a hybrid drivetrain so don’t be surprised if some sort of electrification appears at a later date. For now, the Juke is only available with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol turbocharged to produce 115bhp and 133lb/ft. It’s the same engine used in the Micra and comes with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
In the bigger, heavier Juke, the engine loses some of the vim and liveliness present in the Micra. It’s powerful enough to haul the Juke along and proves pretty refined but with a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds it’s hardly “sporty”. Official economy figures range from 48mpg for the manual to 46mpg for auto and CO2 emissions are 112g/km and 110g/km respectively. If you want to get the most performance from the engine, the manual gearbox is the one to go for while the auto blunts it slightly but makes up for it with a smooth, easy shift.
Of course, you can’t discuss the Juke without referring to its looks. The last one set the bar high for individuality and was a true love-it-or-hate-it car. Despite being all-new, this car hasn’t strayed too far from that original design. Instead it looks like someone has put sharp edges on all the bulbous curves of the old one. The massive circular lights (now the main LED headlights) are still there, topped with slim LED running lights and set above a gawping grille. The roofline tapers down towards the rear in the now-familiar coupe style and there’s still a squat, faintly aggressive edge to it. The B-SUV segment is one of the more adventurous when it comes to design - an approach pioneered by the original Juke - but this new Juke still manages to stand out as particularly bold.
Under the new skin the Juke addresses two of the biggest problems with the original model. It’s slightly longer and wider but has a substantially longer wheelbase, meaning there’s a lot more interior space. Rear passengers get nearly 6cm more knee-room and 1cm more headroom, so you can now actually fit adults in the rear seats.
The interior fit and finish is also a massive step forward from the cheap and nasty cabin of the old Juke. Nissan says the Juke is the best interior of any Nissan and it’s hard to argue. The layout is simplified and sensible, and the materials, including faux or real leather, Alcantara and soft-touch plastics, are a cut above the rest of the range and easily on a par with most of its rivals.
At the heart of the cabin is a new more connected infotainment system, controlled via an eight-inch touchscreen with nicely arranged physical controls for menu shortcuts. As well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, higher-spec versions of the system feature sat nav with live traffic and Google Assistant functionality. This lets you send navigation instructions to the car even when you’re not nearby and ask it to report on things like fuel levels and tyre pressures, if that’s what floats your boat. From next year it you’ll be able to specify a mobile wifi hotspot as well.
The big screen is standard on all but the entry-level £17,860 Visia trim. With 16-inch steel wheels and no touchscreen don’t expect to see many of those, even if cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane intervention are standard. Acenta adds the touchscreen, reversing camera, internet connectivity and 17-inch alloys, while parking sensors, automatic air con, 360-degree camera, keyless technology, navigation and heated seats are available on higher-spec models.
Tekna and Tekna+ models also get Propilot or driver assist with adaptive cruise and active lane keeping and the Bose Personal Plus headrest-mounted speakers for a more immersive listening experience. The £24,360 Tekna+ also offers personalisation packages with two-tone paint finishes and a choice of interior materials and colour combinations.
According to Nissan, when the Juke launched it had no competitors but today it has 24. That’s a tough market but the new model is competitive everywhere it counts, from price to comfort, connectivity and safety technology. It also retains the unique styling and characteristics that set the mould for this rapidly growing segment.
Nissan Juke Tekna
Price: £22,960; Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol; Power: 115bhp; Torque: 133lb/ft; Transmission: Six-speed manual; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds; Economy: 46.3mpg; CO2 emissions: 140g/km