Nissan Juke review
The Nissan Juke is a vastly improved crossover, but it can’t rival the best cars in the fiercely competitive small SUV class
The Nissan Juke took the marketplace by storm when it arrived in 2010, offering buyers a refreshing new alternative to their long-established diet of superminis and hatchbacks.
Whereas SUVs and 4x4s had been widely perceived as clunky and somewhat agricultural, the Juke turned that idea on its head. It took desirable attributes of the SUV such as the raised ride height, improved visibility and sense of commanding road-presence, and integrated them into a characterful and appealingly-designed package that was as easy and cost-effective to drive and own as a plain old hatch.
It was a winning move for Nissan, and rivals fell over themselves to pitch into this new and fashionable SUV sector. It didn’t take long for the Juke to become just one of a wide range of attractive SUV or ‘crossover’ options,
Unfortunately for Nissan, that’s a bit of an issue now there’s a second-generation Juke on the scene. It took the firm the best part of a decade to come up with a replacement for its winning concept, and like that difficult second album the latest version which arrived in 2019 has fallen slightly short of the mark.
It’s not just the fact there are too many rivals about either, because we think Nissan has misjudged the way it has set the new car up.
Car group tests
Used car tests
The engineers have prioritised sharp handling, and as a result the Juke can feel a little brittle on UK roads. It’s bigger inside than before, but it’s still not the most practical model in its class. Limited engine choice and a long-throw manual gearbox cement its place just behind some seriously accomplished competition.
The latest Juke still features much of what made the original car such a great success – bold styling, compact yet practical dimensions and a high-riding stance and driving position. But it’s 35mm wider and 75mm longer than before, while the wheelbase has grown by 105mm, so there is more interior space.
Under the skin the Juke shares much with the Renault Captur – the two make use of the companies’ connections, sharing the same CMF-B platform, engines and some tech. The Juke was designed in Britain and is built at Nissan’s factory in Sunderland.
For now there’s just one engine on offer – a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder badged DIG-T 117 and available with a choice of a manual or automatic gearbox. There’s 115bhp on tap, and performance is adequate, if not exhilarating. There’s no four-wheel drive option, despite the car’s raised ride height; all Juke models are front-wheel drive only.
Nissan’s tried-and-tested and rather broad trim level line-up applies: Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna, and Tekna+ versions are available. Prices start from just over £18,000 and climb to almost £25,000.
The Juke isn’t short of talented rivals. Direct competition comes from the closely related Renault Captur – a car that’s technologically similar, yet has its own appealing combination of style, practicality, comfort and driving enjoyment. Elsewhere, the likes of the Citroen C3 Aircross, Honda HR-V and SEAT Arona give the Juke a run for its money in the comfort, practicality and driving involvement stakes respectively; Peugeot’s latest 2008 has taken the fight upmarket, while the Volkswagen T-Cross has badge power and a wide range of excellent engines on its side. Perhaps the biggest challenge comes in the shape of the Skoda Kamiq – a solid all-rounder that caters to a similarly value-conscious end of the small SUV market.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Nissan Juke is a vastly improved crossover, but it can’t rival the best cars in the fiercely competitive small SUV class
- 2Engines, performance and driveNissan’s engineers have tuned the Juke for UK roads, but the engine and gearbox lag behind the best in this class
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Juke offers decent economy and is relatively cheap to insure, although average CO2 emissions will count against it
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Nissan Juke’s interior is vastly improved, but it doesn’t feel as solidly built as rivals’. At least connectivity is good
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceMuch more practical than before, the new Nissan Juke should offer all the space a small family might need
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Juke is very safe, while the old car’s peerless reliability record bodes well