New Nissan Juke 2019 review
Is the new Nissan Juke good enough to keep ahead of the pack? We find out…
Nissan has had a long time to get the second-generation Juke right, but on this form it’s missed the mark. Maybe we’ll be more positive when we try a manual car in a less expensive trim, yet in a market where excellence is the norm, the Juke is merely good. It’s still got style on its side and we like the quality and tech, but while Nissan invented the supermini SUV sector, others are now doing it better.
If the thousands of current Nissan Juke owners have been waiting for the new model to arrive, they need wait no longer. The new, British-built supermini-SUV is here – and now we’ve driven it for the first time on UK roads.
Things have changed a fair bit since the original Juke arrived nearly 10 years ago. Its launch spawned a whole raft of talented rivals, many of which have progressed into their second generations long before the ageing Juke met its maker.
But Nissan has listened to its loyal customers and given the new version more of the flair that graced the original, while righting many of the wrongs, too. So not only is it a bigger car – 35mm wider and 75mm longer – the boot has also grown to a sizeable 422 litres.
It’s had a thorough tech makeover too, with the now-expected big touchscreen and smartphone connectivity on board. You can even specify Nissan ProPilot – Level Two autonomy that’ll take care of the steering, accelerating and braking on major roads.
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Judging by our first drive of a top-spec Tekna+, however, the new Juke has also kept one of the old car’s traits we weren’t too keen on: its brittle ride. Admittedly, our car came with great-looking 19-inch wheels, but around town the car thumps along at times, and even on the motorway it feels a bit fidgety. Most small SUV rivals have mastered the art of a fine ride these days.
Furthermore, our test car was fitted with a new seven-speed automatic gearbox, which constantly jerked at low speeds – especially when pulling away – although changes under hard acceleration and at higher speeds felt smoother. The Juke’s Sport mode sharpens responses up, while Eco dulls things down; it’s best to just leave it in its standard setting, really. The handling, meanwhile, is reasonably secure and predictable, without too much body roll.
The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine offers 115bhp and up to 200Nm of torque (thanks to an overboost function). Yet the gearbox has to change down a gear on longer inclines to keep a steady pace.
The engine is quiet, although sadly, roar from the big tyres combines with a surprising amount of wind noise on the motorway; rivals are much more hushed. But then they lack the visual drama – inside and out – of the super-stylish Juke. We’ll leave you to decide whether you like the Energy Orange interior, but it’s certainly vivid, especially when illuminated by the bright interior lights at night.
Clearly, then, this Tekna+ with those big wheels and auto gearbox isn’t the new Juke in its finest form – especially when you factor in that it costs £25,295. We look forward to driving the Acenta version, which will knock nearly £5,000 off the list price and drop two inches from the wheel size.
The interior is noticeably more spacious than before, thanks to a wheelbase that’s 105mm longer. There’s adult-size leg and headroom in the back, and while the window line is still higher than in rivals, over-the-shoulder visibility is better.
Quality has taken a step up, too, with a clever mix of soft-touch materials across the dash and on the doors, plus posh-looking piano-black inserts around the infotainment screen and gear selector. The plastic on the door tops and at knee height is a bit cheap, but in general the Juke feels more premium inside than a Volkswagen T-Cross.
Such is the competitive nature of the small SUV sector that Nissan is already offering low-rate finance on the Juke, while leasing companies are circling with attractive offers, too. On a three-year PCP with £2,000 down, you can get a Juke Acenta for £262 a month. That looks good until you see the deal on our favourite small SUV, the Skoda Kamiq, which is a few pounds less on the same terms.