The difficult show
It’s jolly difficult to start a review of Nissan’s Juke without diving head-first into its most distinguishing feature: those looks. Upon seeing it, some people repeatedly gasp for air and struggle to string together a set of deserving expletives while others smirk, smile and giggle at the sight of this odd-looking crossover.
I firmly believe that indecisive buyers will avoid the Juke in equal measure as those wanting an inconspicuous or conservative mode of transport. That means this Nissan is primarily purchased by people suffering from naughtiness, mid-life dilemmas, excessive vibrancy or mild craziness.
You may not want to get stuck in an elevator with this sort of person but I guarantee that nine out of ten will be highly entertaining and way more fun than the accountant from the fourth floor. After a week of driving the Juke (in 1.5dCi turbo-Diesel Acenta+ spec) I can now reveal how much fun you’re in for.
Looking at the maroon example parked outside of my home right now, after seven days of commanding it, I can honestly still say it still looks funky and different. Funky and different are very high up my automotive tick list and I’d imagine that the Juke could brighten a dreary day for many years to come.
No other car has the same combination of excess headlights and let’s-use-every-design-we-can bodywork. It must be one of the most difficult tasks in the world to describe a Nissan Juke to someone who’s never seen it before and nobody would blame the recipient for expecting a hideous abortion of a car.
Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I have to credit Nissan for pulling all those zany design elements into a decently proportioned car. Even if you hate the way it looks, surely you will admit that the overall shape and profile has been joined with a considerable amount of skill?
The same goes for the wild mixture of shapes and textures in the cabin which offers decent space for a family of four. Rear headroom isn’t class-leading, nor is boot space (251L), but those are trade-offs for its modern styling. You’ll be glad to hear that Nissan’s easy controls and layout also prevailed.
Not everywhere though, mind you. The dials, radio, stalks and most buttons are pretty normal but the climate control and its racy D-Mode alter-ago with three drive modes can be hard to fathom. The power read-outs are fun, the dual-mode switches quite ingenious but they’re near impossible to read in bright daylight.
The high driving position but low seating will also be novel to those not used to crossovers; pedal and steering feel are light, the six manual gears engage easily and the brakes are very responsive. Ride quality is good if a little firm and one tester noted that the back got twitchy under hard braking.
Another traction issue (which also plagues the Dig-T turbo-petrol models) is that of forward acceleration, this teeny Diesel engine dishes up incredible response and power – especially in Sport mode – to easily worry the traction control. Switch that off and the front tyres go completely bananas.
If you don’t drive it like a getaway car, the Juke 1.5 dCI’s 81kW (110hp) and 260Nm are so impressive that you need never floor the right pedal to zip around town. The small 46L fuel tank should be of no concern as this car can achieve averages of 4.2L/100km (1,095km theoretical range) and just 109g CO2/km.
So strong is the motor’s response that it borders on snappy in the first few gears, its subsequent cogs being nicely spaced to keep the oil burner operating efficiently, which it does from just under 1,500rpm. Sixth gear is quite tall and perfectly suited for highway use while a start/stop system also helps to curb diesel thirst.
To keep tech junkies happy, this Juke comes with Bluetooth, CD, mp3, USB, cruise control and trip computer while the safety conscious among you will appreciate ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist, stability control, immobiliser, ISOFIX anchors, six airbags and a space-saver alloy spare wheel.
Each Juke is sold with Nissan’s 3-year/100,000km warranty and 3-year/90,000km service plan. From experience I’d expect the basic non-turbo models to be perky enough, at least at sea level, but you want a turbo Juke (petrol OR diesel) to blow your hair back. In other words, the go to match the show.
0-100m: 6.6s / 79.8km/h
0-200m: 10.4s / 100.8km/h
0-300m: 13.7s / 114.2km/h
0-400m: 16.7s / 124.8km/h
1/4mile: 16.8s @ 77.7mph (125.0km/h)