Nissan Juke review
The Nissan Juke has distinctive styling, good specs and mpg and a low price – a worthy MINI Countryman rival. Juke Nismo provides thrills
Following the launch of the immensely popular Qashqai in 2007, Nissan followed-up with the smaller Juke in 2010. The Juke is a stylish crossover SUV alternative to regular superminis like the Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta.
Just as the Qashqai was one of the pivotal cars in starting the UK's crossover love-in, the arrival of the Nissan Juke spawned a whole range of supermini based SUVs such as the Renault Captur, Vauxhall Mokka, Mitsubishi ASX and Peugeot 2008.
The Nissan Juke range is made up of 10 models - the entry level Visia, mid-range Acenta, Acenta +, n-tec, and n-tec + models. Then there are the higher-end Tekna spec cars, plus the performance orientated Juke Nismo.
Nissan introduced the Nismo model Juke to its range in 2012. The hot Juke is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged 197bhp petrol engine, which kicks out a mighty 197bhp. The Nismo and turbocharged 1.6 DiG-T models are the only Jukes that Nissan offers with 4x4, but given the Juke’s small size, don't expect Land Rover levels of off-road capability.
Nissan also offers the Eclipse Pack on all models of the Juke except the Nismo and this optional kit includes 17-inch alloys, go-faster stripes, NissanConnect navigation system and a variable suspension which can be change depending on your environment.
Nissan has kept the choice of engines simple with the Juke - petrol buyers can only select their Duke with a 1.6-litre engine in normally-aspirated or turbocharged forms, whereas those wanting a diesel unit get the 1.5-litre dCi unit which Nissan shares with Renault. Nissan also offers the Juke with a CVT automatic transmission on all diesel and petrol trim levels.
Undoubtedly, the Nissan Juke is a little car filled with bags of character. Its dramatic looks are matched by heaps of on-board technology and a tantalisingly low starting price of around £13,000 for the entry-level Visia spec.
Despite its high driving position, the Nissan Juke isn't the most practical supermini-based SUV on the market as a result of its sloping roofline. This significantly limits the headroom in the Nissan Juke and eats into its boot space.
Our choice of Nissan Juke is the 1.5-litre dCi diesel as a result of its mix of performance and decent real-world economy.
Our choice: Juke 1.5 dCi Tekna
Thanks to its frog-eye front end and wide grille, the Nissan Juke is a purposeful looking small car and it's already won many fans. Nissan has carried on the Juke's striking looks to its back-end, and has given it a set of rear-lights inspired by its 370Z sportscar.
The base-level Visia Nissan Juke comes with all-round electric windows, air conditioning and split-folding rear seats as standard. In addition to these standard features, Nissan fits the Acenta level Juke with 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, front fog lights, cruise control and Bluetooth tech.
The interior of the standard Nissan Juke from the entry level Visia to range-topping n-tec is more functional than upmarket.
Prior to early 2013, the Nissan Juke Tekna was the range-topping model, but was replaced by the n-tec model. The n-tec Juke gets 18-inch black and silver alloys, a 5.8-inch infotainment screen, gloss black B-pillars, and the latest version of Nissan Connect which features Google's Send-To-Car technology. This allows drivers to plan a route before leaving their location, and send it directly to the car.
The Nismo version of the Nissan Juke is even more striking than any of the standard models, as it gets an aggressive body kit, lowered suspension, big black alloys and in-your-face red wing mirrors. The interior differs slightly from regular models too, as the hot Juke gets a splash of Nismo badging and lots of soft-touch Alcantara trimmings.
The Nissan Juke can't match a traditional hatchback like the Ford Fiesta for cornering ability, but while its more SUV than anything in terms of handling, it's still pretty decent to drive and is quite comfortable on the open road.
Around town, the Nissan Juke's light steering makes driving straightforward but it provides very little feel on a twisty B-road. Factor in the taller SUV style body, and the Juke tends to suffer from some body roll while cornering.
Given the Juke Nismo's sporty credentials, Nissan has provided some welcome weight to the steering, but the 10 per cent stiffer sports suspension makes the Juke twitchy across poor road services. What's more, the CVT automatic gearbox really spoils the car's sporty edge.
However, what the Juke Nismo lacks in comfort, it makes up for in straight line performance. Nissan claims a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds, making the Juke Nismo just under a second slower than a Volkswagen Golf GTi in a straight line.
Our pick of the Nissan Juke range, though, would be the efficient 1.5-litre dCi diesel but again, we recommend you avoid the CVT automatic gearbox, which is slow, rough and really damages fuel consumption.
In our 2013 Driver Power Survey, the Nissan Juke took a massive hit in the standings and dropped from 13th to 62nd with an overall score of 85.5%. While the Nissan Juke scored highly for its technology, its reliability was just reasonable, and high running costs and questionable build quality marked it down.
Higher end Tekna, n-tec and Nismo version Jukes get an advanced dashboard-mounted screen, which shows a range of information such as cornering G-force. Unfortunately, where the Nissan Juke is essentially a hatchback-based family crossover, it all seems a bit pointless.
What's more, some of the plastics Nissan has used inside the Juke are a bit cheap, and lack the upmarket feel found on something like a Volkswagen Polo. However, they should be sturdy enough to stand up to daily wear and tear.
All of the engines that Nissan shares with Renault are extremely reliable, and thanks to its five-star Euro NCAP rating, the Juke is also one of the safest cars around. Nissan also gives the Juke ESP, ABS and six-airbags as standard safety kit.
The Nissan Juke's stylish appearance comes at a compromise, with boot space and rear seat space suffering as a result of its sloping roofline.
Even with the rear seats folded flat, the front-wheel drive car gets 251-litres of boot space which sees it lose out massively in the practicality stakes to its rivals. It means that the Juke's closer to the Volkswagen up! city car in terms of practicality than a full-size supermini. The four-wheel-drive version has an even smaller boot at 207-litres.
Fortunately, Nissan has placed plenty of useful cubby holes around the interior, plus a deep glovebox and extra storage under the boot floor.
While it can't match its more traditional supermini rivals for in terms of practicality, the Nissan Juke's availability in four-wheel-drive means it capable of towing, and should you want to, will allow you to venture (slightly) off the beaten track.
Being a Nissan, the Juke's strong residual values should help keep lifetime running costs low and across the Juke range, Nissan offers a wide selection of petrol and diesel engines.
Our choice would be the 1.5 dCi, which while a little noisy, Nissan claims it returns a combined economy of 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km.
The only Jukes available with four-wheel-drive are the turbocharged 1.6 DiG-T Tekna and Nismo spec cars. However, Juke DiG-T buyers are lumbered with the clunky CVT automatic gearbox and turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, which returns a poor combined cycle of 37.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 169g/km.
The Juke Nismo four-wheel-drive has the same CO2 emissions, but has a marginally improved combined economy of 38.2g/km. To put it into perspective, the much more powerful Audi RS Q3 has a combined economy of 32.1mpg.
Fortunately, the Duke Nismo is also available as a front-wheel drive with a manual gearbox.