The Nissan Juke has the crossover styling and the SUV driving feel that people want, but underneath there’s an engine that should deliver efficiency.
The original Nissan Juke shocked everyone with its radical, bulbous crossover styling – the new model may not look as daring, but it still feels like an SUV to drive. So does the new Juke represent progress?
The crossover styling of the original Juke was innovative. The new model tones down the rounded shapes with more angular lines that can be seen on other Nissan models such as the Micra and the LEAF. And it’s a similar approach in the interior, which has matured slightly second time around. There’s still a decent amount of space inside, and you can even remove the boot floor to make the rear luggage compartment even deeper.
Despite the tough crossover exterior appearance, under the bonnet there’s no powertrain engineered for the Dakar Rally – instead there’s a 3-cylinder, 1-litre petrol engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox – and just front-wheel drive.
Despite the small engine, the Juke feels like an SUV to drive. You look out over a large bonnet, you’re higher up than a regular family hatchback, and the suspension feels like it should be able to cope with tackling off-road surfaces comfortably – in other words, it sounds ideal for the UK’s potholed urban roads. The ride quality on our test car was probably helped by the relatively high profile tyres. But as well as a decent ride, the latest Juke has more agile handling than the last model.
However, although the pliant chassis assists with comfort when driving in built-up areas, one thing doesn’t help: turbo lag. Turbo lag appears to be increasingly common since the new WLTP test came in, especially in small capacity turbo engines. The outcome of this is that if you’re trying to accelerate out of a junction on to a busy main road, the Juke’s engine can feel like it’s dying on you at low revs, then the turbo kicks in and wheelspin can result, but then the traction control system cuts in to limit the revs. All of which doesn’t contribute to a great driving experience. And it’s not helped by the lack of precision from the 6-speed manual gearbox.
If you’re not repeatedly setting off from standstill and experiencing the turbo lag issues, ie. if you’re driving at a constant speed on a motorway, then the Juke is fairly quiet and refined.
There’s a small ‘D-Mode’ button under the gear selector offering drive modes of Eco, Standard and Sport. Eco mode dials back the responses too much, and Sport mode results in the steering becoming heavier as well as the throttle responses improving.
The infomedia system has moved on since the last Juke, and helpfully it features shortcut buttons under the screen. And in contrast to the Nissan LEAF, you can adjust the reach of the Juke steering wheel as well as the height.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Nissan Juke N-Connecta 1.0 DIG-T 117 is 47.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 112 g/km. In real-world driving we managed 49.4mpg at 70mph on the motorway, however this dropped to the low 30’s around town – perhaps because of the revs shooting up when the turbo kicked in following the turbo lag. Overall after a week of mixed driving we averaged 43.4mpg, which is slightly down on the official WLTP combined figure.
The Juke was displaying a range in excess of 300 miles on a full tank.
The Nissan Juke N-Connecta 1.0 DIG-T 117 costs £22,395. Our test car had the options of Fuji Sunset Red paint (£754.00) with Pearl Black roof and mirrors (£1,145), Heat Pack (£295), Advanced Safety Shield Pack (£1,000) and 19-inch alloy wheels (£580), taking the total price of this car to £24,965.
The Juke only comes with the 117PS 1.0 DIG-T petrol engine, however a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) is also available as well as the manual. It’s available in Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna+ and Premiere Edition trim levels.
The Nissan Juke gives the feeling that you’re driving a capable off-roader but under the big bonnet is just a 3-cylinder, 1-litre petrol engine which powers only the front wheels. This powertrain should deliver efficiency but of course crossovers don’t have streamlined aerodynamics and so fuel economy in the real world won’t be amazing. Overall you can see why the Juke has enjoyed decent sales, and the more agile chassis and comfortable ride of the latest model is welcomed, it’s just a shame that the turbo lag spoils the driving experience – something that isn’t an issue with electric cars. The Nissan Juke N-Connecta 1.0 DIG-T 117 gains a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.