Does four-wheel drive give bold hatch added appeal?
A commanding driving position, punchy powerplant and four-wheel- drive traction all add to the Juke’s quirky appeal. Yet you can’t specify the 4x4 with a manual gearbox, something which would improve the hit and miss driving experience. It also can’t match the poise of a conventional supermini, and the flagship fails to offer enough extra dynamic ability to justify its higher price. We’d look down the range at the front-wheel-drive version, which starts at £15,695.
The Micra might be conservative, but the Juke is as radical as ever! And we got behind the wheel of the hottest 4x4 version for the first time on UK roads.
You’ll either love or loathe the Juke’s looks – yet by being bold, Nissan has made a car that really stands out from the crowd.
The 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine in the flagship has plenty of power, too, pulling cleanly towards the red line in any gear. Surprisingly, though, the 4x4 is not the fastest Juke on sale, as the extra weight of the rear differential and the CVT gearbox means it trails the cheaper front-wheel-drive car from 0-62mph, and has a lower top speed, too.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Nissan Juke
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Given the recent wintry conditions, however, plenty of buyers will prefer the added security of four-wheel drive – and the Juke has three settings to choose from. There’s full 4WD for slippery conditions and light off-road work, a ‘4WD-V’ mode which brakes the inside wheels for tighter cornering, and 2WD for better economy and everyday use.
In regular on-road driving, it’s hard to feel much of a difference between the settings, but the steering does weight up a little more when all the wheels are being driven. The ride is on the harsh side, but the Juke grips well in bends, despite leaning more than you might expect. Sadly, the steering feels rather artificial and the CVT gearbox lacks refinement.
The sporty interior really suits the flagship model’s performance, and generous equipment levels mean that the only cost option available on our car was the pearlescent white paint (£400).
The Juke’s practicality is compromised by the looks though, as the slope of the roofline eats into rear headroom, and the 205-litre boot is still 60 litres short of the smaller Micra. These aren’t deal breakers, but the biggest stumbling block is the price.
A 4WD Juke will set you back over £20,000, and despite coming fully loaded with extras, that is a lot to pay for a high-riding supermini, even one as likeable and striking as the Juke.