Nissan Juke Tekna: long-term test review
First report: we find out if the trendy Nissan Juke SUV is as good the second time around
Nissan has made the latest Juke more fun to drive, but the trade-off is a firm ride. We like the bold styling and extensive kit list, and will find out more over the coming months.
Mileage: 2,873 milesEconomy: 36.7mpg
When the Nissan Juke was launched in 2010, it changed the automotive landscape forever. It was one of the first cars of its kind, and buyers flocked to it just as music lovers did to the first iPod.
So, like the updated model that followed the original iPod, this new second-generation Juke had a lot to live up to. Apple provided people with the ability to place thousands of songs in their pocket, in much the same way the novel Nissan introduced the concept of small SUVs to fashion-conscious buyers.
As time wore on, the Juke’s compromised packaging and underwhelming driving experience saw it fall behind the competition. Similarly, despite its innovative features and clean white casing, Apple’s first MP3 player was soon surpassed by more modern rivals. But then the iPod became the iPhone, and we all know how well that went.
The Juke’s fundamentals haven’t changed in this new version: it is still a style-focused small SUV with a raised driving position and polarising looks. It’ll appeal to many people on style alone, but others will see that bulbous face and head straight for a SEAT showroom. Under the skin, though, this new Juke is completely different. From the all-new CMF-B platform to the turbocharged three-cylinder engine, this second-generation model shares very little with its predecessor.
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To find out if this is enough to put it back with the best, we’re running a Tekna model on the Auto Express fleet for the next six months. It’s this trim we’d recommend; despite it costing quite a bit more than the entry-level Visia (prices start from £17,395), Tekna models feature Nissan’s Advanced Safety Shield Pack, including a 360-degree camera, blind-spot intervention, rear cross-traffic alert and intelligent cruise control. That’s in addition to the standard model’s fantastic LED lights and DAB radio.
Other desirable kit fitted to our Tekna test car as standard includes a set of Bose speakers integrated into the front headrests, heated seats, and a heated windscreen – a blessing during the colder months. A seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is fitted to cheaper N-Connecta cars, which means they’re standard on our Tekna, too.
Our car’s only optional extra is the two-tone Fuji Sunset Red and Pearl Black paint. Nissan’s lesser ‘Flame Red’ is the only colour available at no extra cost, and while this combination looks great, it makes our car’s design seem a bit ostentatious.
We’re now nudging almost 3,000 miles since the Nissan joined our fleet, and are pleased with the performance that this seemingly small 1.0-litre turbo engine offers. On paper it wasn’t as strong as its rivals’ when we pitted it against the SEAT Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross, but in reality it’s plenty quick enough for me. The Juke’s manual gearbox and slightly spongy pedals aren’t as slick as the Arona’s, but the Nissan’s steering is precise and the body control is excellent for a car of this type. The trade-off, though, is a firm and fidgety ride. That’s a shame, because in many other ways this second-generation Juke is easy to live with and largely rewarding to drive.
Practicality is vastly improved over its predecessor, too. The SUV’s 422-litre boot swallowed everything my wife and I needed over the Christmas break – including an unjustifiably large haul of presents – and on one occasion even transported five adults and a dog for a windy walk on the beach.
Cabin stowage is a bit hit and miss; the door pockets are large enough, but the cubby between the front seats is barely big enough to hold a mobile phone. I’ve ended up using it as a rubbish bin, although it’s so small that I need to empty it at the end of every journey.
But the beauty (or not, depending on your view) of Nissan’s latest Juke lies in its distinctive styling. From the outset, the designers knew this was the original car’s key selling point, and so they needed to do something seriously special to ensure this new version carried the same appeal.
Like it or loathe it, you can expect to see a lot more of Jukes on UK roads in the coming months, including ours, because we’ll be piling on the miles.