Nissan Juke review: Small SUV trendsetter plays catch-up to rivals
Once a trend-setter, the Nissan Juke now plays catch-up to a bunch of rivals it helped to inspire
It took the best part of a decade to replace the Nissan Juke because the original was such a successful concept. But like a band following up with a difficult second album, there was a lot expected of the next-generation Juke when it arrived in 2019, and not just from its loyal fans.
Ever since the first Juke entered the charts, scores of rivals have come along to cash in on its success. Some were much more practical, others were more fun to drive. And, of course, a number had gone down the electrification route and shunned diesel power. In the process of making something that tried to cater to all tastes, the resulting second-generation Juke didn’t quite hit all the right notes, and has since been playing catch-up to some seriously accomplished competition.
About the Nissan Juke
Nissan pretty much invented the small-SUV 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 cost similar money.
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 now, and the playing field is littered with small-SUV 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 we find 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.
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Under the skin, the Juke shares much with the Renault Captur – the two use the same CMF-B platform, engines and some tech. The Juke is designed in Britain and is built at Nissan’s factory in Sunderland.
Buyers now have the choice of two engines: a 112bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit, and a 141bhp 1.6-litre petrol hybrid. The former is available with either a manual or automatic gearbox, while the latter hybrid option comes with a ‘multi-modal’ automatic transmission. There’s no four-wheel-drive option, unlike the Toyota Yaris Cross; 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, although you can't specify the hybrid model with the entry Visia or Acenta equipment lines. Prices start from around £21,000 and climb to more than £31,000 for the top-spec hybrid.
The Juke faces a long list of formidable rivals, including the closely related 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, Ford Puma, 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 sportier 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 original’s style and compact dimensions, but adding a more upmarket feel and much-improved tech.
Nissan Juke history
Nissan Juke Mk2: 2019-present
The latest Juke has a far more premium feel than its predecessor. The bold exterior design now matches a classy and upmarket interior, all while offering greater space. It’s also more grown up to drive, with improved refinement and greater handling precision. It’s also packed with the latest tech, including an upgraded touchscreen infotainment and a raft of advanced driver aids.
Nissan Juke Mk1: 2010-2019
The pioneering Juke set the small SUV template that almost every other manufacturer follows. Its 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 its replacement in 2019. You can read our full Nissan Juke used buyer’s guide here.
For an alternative review of the Nissan Juke, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingOnce a trend-setter, the Nissan Juke now plays catch-up to a bunch of rivals it helped to inspire
- 2Engines, performance and driveNissan’s engineers have tuned the Juke for UK roads, while the petrol hybrid model offers decent performance
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Nissan Juke full hybrid model delivers impressive efficiency, although it's a little expensive to buy
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Nissan Juke’s interior doesn’t feel as solidly built as rivals’. At least connectivity is good
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Nissan Juke should offer all the space a small family might need, although rivals are more versatile
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Nissan Juke is very safe, although Driver Power customer feedback needs to improve