Following the success of the bigger Qashqai, the Nissan Juke invented the compact crossover class when it arrived back in 2010. Its success was immediate, with over 500,000 worldwide sales to date. And Nissan has decided not to tamper too much with its winning formula for this facelifted model, which we’ve now driven on UK roads.
Notable changes include redesigned headlamps, featuring LED daytime running lights, while new trim on the front bumper has beefed up the rugged look. A more aggressive shape to the rear and restyled boomerang tail-lamps, using LED bulbs, certainly don’t dilute the Juke’s boisterous image. Nissan has also extended the personalisation options available on the car. Adding to the visual drama are new colour palettes and alloy wheel designs, as well as optional coloured exterior and interior inserts.
But perhaps the biggest change to the Juke is the addition of a new 1.2-litre DIG-T petrol turbo. To date, the engine of choice among buyers has been the larger 1.6-litre petrol – which is still available – but the downsized turbo motor promises better performance and fuel economy, plus more fun.
The engine has been adopted from the Qashqai range, but it’s a much better character fit for the playful Juke. While it still isn’t a match for the diesel options when it comes to economy, 47.1mpg is okay for a car of this class. A comparable Renault Captur, however, will return an even more impressive 52.3mpg.
But the updated Juke puts distance between itself and its Renault rival, thanks to its more urgent power delivery and composure on the road. For a car with such a small-capacity engine, the Juke gathers pace surprisingly quickly – it certainly feels faster than its claimed 10.8-second 0-62mph sprint time.
The six-speed manual gearbox fitted to our test car was an ideal match for the downsized motor, too, with short and snappy changes. You have to flick between ratios more often than you would in the higher-capacity engines, but the gearlever is perfectly placed.
The revised Juke has also held on to other qualities that helped build its loyal following. The prominent headlight design, on the top of the bonnet, acts as an alignment aid to help you place the Juke where you want it on the road. Body roll is well contained, the steering is light, but accurate, and while the ride can get a little choppy over bigger bumps, it’s comfortable most of the time.
The only qualm we have with the interior is that there is no steering reach adjustment, so you have to sit a little further forward than you usually would. Yet this does free up extra space in the rear. And while headroom is a little tight for passengers taller than six feet, knee room is fine.
By reshaping the boot, Nissan has also increased load capacity by 40 per cent in front-wheel-drive models – it now stands at 354 litres. Opt for four-wheel drive and you have to make do with a supermini-sized 251 litres.
Our test car came fitted with the optional open-air glass roof (£750), which floods the dark interior with light. But no surface in the cabin feels cheap. High-gloss plastics and soft fabrics give an upmarket feel, while standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, daytime running lights and MP3 compatibility.