The Nissan Juke Tekna DIG-T looks funky and it’s still fun to drive, but it’s been around for a while now, so should you still consider one?
When the Nissan Juke first appeared it aimed to offer bored hatchback drivers a more visual interesting ‘urban crossover’ concept, along the same lines as the Qashqai, but for a more compact class of vehicle. We reviewed the Juke in 1.5 dCi form back in March 2011. Since then the Juke has had a mild mid-life refresh, and we’re now testing the petrol rather than the diesel engine. A replacement model is due soon, so you’re likely to get good deals on a Juke at the moment – so should you be tempted?
Styling is the key thing that sets the Juke apart. From the strange headlight arrangement at the front, to elements of the interior such as the motorbike fuel tank-inspired design feature around the gearbox, the Juke looks fun. In fact our 2017 test car looks a lot more fun than our 2011 test car – helped by its yellow colour (inside and out). Whether you’d actually want to own a car in that colour is another matter.
Our test car had a 4-cylinder, 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, and front-wheel drive. It’s a five-seater, and although the boot doesn’t extend particularly far back, it’s quite deep.
First things first, the Juke Tekna DIG-T has no steering wheel reach adjustment (the current Nissan LEAF has the same problem). Even if the Juke was the best car in the world, having no reach adjustment means that it instantly loses a mark with us.
Once you’re underway, the Juke Tekna DIG-T is fun to drive. It’s what the MINI Countryman should be – compact, with a wheel at each corner, fairly responsive steering, and not much body roll (the latest Countryman has grown too big to exhibit such driving dynamics).
However the Juke suffers from a common problem that faces crossover and SUV engineers. Such cars ride higher than hatchbacks, and are also taller. This means they tend to roll when going around corners. With the Juke, the engineers have reduced the amount of roll allowed by the suspension, but the result is that you’re left with very little compliance in the suspension, as any trip down a poorly surfaced road will confirm. The original Qashqai also had a similar problem, but the latest model has much more fluidity, so hopefully the replacement for this Juke will have the same fix.
The Juke is also quite noisy on the motorway – again, something that is likely to be improved in a new model.
The dashboard looks a bit dated overall, in particular the infomedia system, which has a small screen compared to more modern rivals.
A slightly quirky feature is the ability to change the same control panel on the dashboard from operating heating functions to displaying various items of driving data (‘Climate’ or ‘D-Mode’). Also accessible via this panel are three drive modes: Normal, Sport and Eco.
The Juke Tekna DIG-T has heated seats, but the buttons are in a strange place, hidden under the central armrest.
The official combined economy figure for the Nissan Juke Tekna DIG-T 115 2WD is 48.7mpg, equating to 130g/km CO2. Overall, after a week of mixed driving – but around 80% on non-urban journeys – we averaged 42.3mpg. However around town this dropped to 29.0mpg. Both the official economy (and CO2 figure) and the real-life mpg results aren’t great. This is because there’s a downsized 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet, and the aerodynamics of the Juke DIG-Taren’t particularly slippery (it has a drag coefficient of 0.35Cd). The relatively disappointing fuel economy also means you get a short driving range between fuel stops, less than 300 miles in real-life.
The diesel engine option would be better for fuel economy (with up to 70.6mpg and 105g/km CO2 emissions), but as we know, diesel engines, with their higher particulate and NOx emissions, are currently frowned upon, especially for urban use.
The Nissan Juke Tekna DIG-T 115 2WD costs £19,660, including sunlight yellow metallic paint (£575). Our test car had options of open air glass roof (£750), Xenon headlights (£500), and Exterior+ pack, including 18-inch alloy wheels (£650), bringing the total price to £21,560.
The Juke Visia is available from £14,880, the Acenta from £16,785, the N-Connecta from £18,375, the Envy from £19,045, and the Tekna from £19,535. There’s also the Juke NISMO RS from £23,395. We’ve driven the NISMO RS and it leaves you wondering why Nissan offers this as front-wheel drive rather than four-wheel drive, as the front tyres just don’t have enough grip (we’ve also driven the Juke-R, with a Nissan GT-R powertrain, which is much better than the NISMO RS). As well as various petrol engine options there’s also a diesel, the dci 110. You can also opt for 4WD, as well as choosing between manual and Xtronic transmissions.
The Nissan Juke shocked many people when it first appeared. From a company that was traditionally known for generally unexciting products such as the Primera and the Micra, the radical design was a real departure. The Juke was Nissan’s take on the compact urban crossover of course, and since then there have been lots of copies from other manufacturers – imitation, flattery, and all that. Today the Juke looks just as eye-catching – in fact our yellow 2017 Juke looks much better than our grey 2011 version. It’s also fun to drive – in the way that the latest MINI Countryman should be, but isn’t. However on the downside, the infomedia system now looks a bit dated, and the fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren’t great. But perhaps the main thing that Nissan needs to address is the compliance of the suspension and agility of the chassis – they’ve done this with the latest Qashqai compared to the original, so we’d hope this happens with the Juke’s replacement. But perhaps the main thing to look forward to is ongoing interesting design from the next Juke, combined with the all-electric powertrain from the new LEAF. That would really bring the Juke up to date. In the meantime, the Nissan Juke Tekna DIG-T 115 2WD is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10. When we tested it back in 2011 it scored 8/10 – it’s still fun, but the trouble is, lots of competitors have moved the game on over the last six years.