Nissan Juke review
Once a trend-setter, the Nissan Juke now plays catch-up with a bunch of rivals it helped to inspire
It took Nissan the best part of a decade to come up with a replacement for its winning Juke concept, and like that difficult second album the second-generation 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.
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.
About the Nissan Juke
Nissan pretty much invented the supermini-derived SUV/crossover class when it launched the first Juke back in 2010. It offered butch, if slightly caricatured ‘off-road’ styling, a pleasingly elevated view of the road, and looked nothing like the boring old hatchbacks or mini-mpvs that it rivalled at the price.
However it was just as easy to own and drive, and as a result sales boomed. Rivals naturally pitched-in behind the Juke with crossovers of their own, but it took a while for the industry to catch up and Nissan made hay.
Fast forward to 2021 and the playing field is littered with rivals, and while that may be a credit to Nissan’s visionary product planners, it’s a significant challenge for the firm’s engineers. Regrettably, it’s a challenge the second-generation Juke, launched in 2019, struggles to meet.
The 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. It’s also 35mm wider and 75mm longer than before, while the wheelbase has grown by 105mm, so there is more interior space.
Car group tests
Used car tests
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 114 and available with a choice of a manual or automatic gearbox. There’s 112bhp 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 £19,000 and climb to over £25,000.
But the Juke faces a long list of formidable rivals, including 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; the Peugeot 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.
Used and nearly new
When the Nissan Juke made its debut in 2010 it was one of the first models to feature rugged SUV style in a supermini-sized package. Good to drive and featuring low running costs, it was a hit with buyers on a budget who wanted to stand out on the road.
It’s a mark of the Juke’s popularity that the first-generation model lasted nearly a full decade on sale, with only a minor refresh in 2014. It was also the first car of its kind to offer a high-performance version, the Nismo and Nismo RS preceding rivals such as the Ford Puma ST by a good few years.
An all-new model arrived in 2019, retaining the orginal’s style and compact dimensions, but adding a more upmarket feel and much improved tech.
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Nissan Juke history
Nissan Juke Mk2: 2019-present
The latest Juke has a far more premium feel to its predecessor, the bold exterior design now matched to a classy and upmarket interior that offers greater space. It’s more grown up to drive too, with improved refinement and greater handling precision. It’s also packed with latest tech, including touchscreen infotainment and a raft of advanced driver aids.
Nissan Juke Mk1: 2010-2019
The pioneering Juke set the supermini SUV template that now almost every other manufacturer follows. It’s mix of quirky exterior styling, a high-set driving position and low running costs made it an instant sales success. More practical and talented rivals soon muscled in on the Nissan’s patch, but the Juke’s visual appeal meant that it remained a popular choice until it was replaced in 2019. You can read our full Nissan Juke used buyer’s guide here.
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