Car group tests

Nissan Juke vs Rivals

Nissan has broken the mould with the striking Juke - we pit it against key crossover rivals from Toyota, Kia, and Skoda.

Nissan Juke vs. Rivals
The writing is on the wall for the traditional supermini, as a new breed of cars is emerging. Leading the way is Nissan’s Juke, which is set to tear up the rulebook, thanks to its daring looks and off-road stance.
The firm pulled off the same trick with the larger Qashqai, and now the newcomer aims to repeat that success. Here we test the 1.6-litre petrol model in mid-range Acenta trim. But Nissan isn’t the only firm with a stylish crossover supermini.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Nissan Juke
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The Kia Soul mixes a tall ride height and boxy looks with a value price tag. It’s backed up by a seven-year warranty, so the Soul also promises to be painless to own.
The Toyota Urban Cruiser is another chunky supermini. While its 1.33-litre petrol engine is small, it matches its rivals for power. And thanks to stop-start technology, it also promises to be the most economical here.
If practicality is as big a priority as trendy design, you can’t ignore the Skoda Roomster. It looks chunky in Scout guise, and its 1.2 TSI engine is a technical tour de force. We hit the road to find out which of our quartet is the king of the urban jungle...

Verdict

These cars are all about style, which makes picking a winner a difficult task. But even taking into account varying personal tastes, one stands out – the Kia Soul. The model that kick-started the crossover supermini craze drives well, is packed with kit and looks great. Factor in its practical design and seven-year warranty, and it takes the victory.
Second place goes to the Juke – very nearly on its looks alone. It’s well equipped for the money, but it is far from perfect. Not only is the cabin cramped, but it fails to excite behind the wheel.
In third place, Skoda’s Roomster shows that you can marry head-turning looks with a practical cabin. However, its high price prevents it from taking second spot here. The combination of its 1.2 TSI engine and DSG box also proved disappointing – the manual would be our pick.
That leaves the Toyota to pick up the wooden spoon. The competent Urban Cruiser barely puts a foot wrong and is very efficient, but in a test where style and image are important, the Japanese machine lacks the necessary desirability or character to compete.
1. Kia Soul 
Distinctive looks, value-for-money price and impressive kit ensure the Soul is a strong all-rounder. It drives sharply and promises to be easy to live with.
2. Nissan Juke
New kid on block looks the most distinctive and is well equipped. However, it’s not as good to drive as the Soul and can’t match Kia’s promise of hassle-free ownership.
3. Skoda Roomster
If practicality is your main priority,  this is the car for you. But it isn’t cheap, and on this evidence we couldn’t recommend the DSG box with the 1.2-litre TSI engine.
4. Toyota Urban Cruiser
It's competent, but the Toyota is outclassed for style and interior versatility. The driving experience is uninspiring, too but stop/start makes it the most efficient choice. 

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