Nissan Juke Acenta

Is the Juke a case of style over substance, or can it follow in the successful footsteps of Nissan's other crossover, the Qashqai?

Can the Juke repeat the success of the Nissan Qashqai? That model reinvented the compact hatchback sector, and now the Juke aims to do the same in the supermini class.

The newcomer’s styling splits opinion, but even detractors will agree that it looks better in the metal than in pictures. It’s the most striking car here by a wide margin. The off-road stance pays dividends inside, where occupants enjoy a great view of the road.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Nissan Juke

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There’s plenty of adjustment on the driver’s seat, but the flat backrest became uncomfortable after longer stints behind the wheel. The rim doesn’t adjust for reach, either, and the Juke has the worst driving position of our quartet. That’s a shame, because other parts of the cabin impress. The steering wheel, for example, is from the 370Z coupe. There’s also the neat D-Mode computer, which uses the same controls as the climate control system. The buttons toggle between functions, which include G-force, power and economy meters. These may sound like gimmicks, but they add genuine interest. Selecting between Sport, Normal and Eco modes also fine tunes the throttle and steering. In contrast, the Juke’s stereo looks cheap, but it does include a Bluetooth phone connection. The majority of the plastics in the cabin don’t match the quality in the Skoda or Toyota, and the oversized gearlever feels plasticky. Small rear doors mean getting into the back is a challenge, while the shallow side windows and thick C-pillars make it feel claustrophobic inside. 

What’s more, the boot capacity is only 251 litres and there’s no parcel shelf – the price you pay for the looks. A split floor allows you to stow small items underneath, though. 

Our test car’s 115bhp 1.6-litre petrol unit is expected to account for most sales. It’s a lively performer, but peak power arrives at 6,000rpm, and peak torque is only 2,000rpm earlier, so you have to work it hard to make fast progress. This would be fine, but the engine sounds gruff and only comes alive at 5,000rpm. Low gearing also means the unit hits 3,600rpm at 70mph, and the short-throw gearshift is notchy. 

The soft suspension absorbs bumps well, but the tall body leans in corners, and in Normal mode the steering is too light. Swap to the Sport setting and throttle responses sharpen and the steering weight increases – but there’s no more fun to be had. The engine could be more efficient, too – the Juke returned a poor 30.7mpg, and emissions of 147g/km are below par. Nissan is clearly banking on the striking looks of its newcomer to paper over these cracks in its credentials.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: Newcomer stands out with its concept car looks. Cabin isn’t huge, but there are some neat design touches.

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