Nissan Juke review - Engines, performance and drive
Nissan’s engineers have tuned the Juke for UK roads, but the engine and gearbox lag behind the best in this class
The new Nissan Juke has been tuned for UK roads, or, more specifically, on the roundabouts of Milton Keynes. The car’s engineers have worked hard to make the Juke more fun to drive, and in some ways they’ve achieved this. In others, not so much.
The Juke is based on the same small car platform as the latest Renault Clio and Captur, yet it drives quite differently. While the French siblings prioritise comfort, the Nissan feels much stiffer and more alert. Body control is excellent, but the trade off is a firm ride. The chassis is rigid, yet the Juke manages not to crash too terribly through bumps and potholes. It does fidget at higher speeds, however, with seemingly little suspension travel to soak up small imperfections in the road. Strangely, it didn’t seem any worse on the larger 19-inch wheels – so don’t avoid these purely in the pursuit of improved ride quality.
For a car of this type, the Juke does handle quite well. There’s very little roll in the bends and grip is good. The steering is light and doesn’t offer all that much feel, however, and the long-throw manual gearbox – and oddly spongy pedals – mean it’s not always that easy to drive smoothly.
We’ve got reservations over the single engine option, too. While it feels punchy enough around town, it can feel laggy, with a tendency to bog down if you try to pull away without many revs. The DCT auto is better in this regard, but it’s jerky at slow speeds and you might find it changing down a gear more often than you’d like – especially on steeper inclines.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
At launch there’s only one engine for the Nissan Juke, although buyers do get a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. The latter adds around £1,400 to the car’s list price.
The 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine has 115bhp and 200Nm of torque, which pulls the Juke along with reasonable efficiency – but only if you keep the revs up. Officially, 0-62mph takes 10.4 seconds for the manual, or 11.1 seconds in the DCT auto, although our official tests (on the manual car) showed these numbers were hard to replicate. The long-throw gearbox and spongy pedals don’t help.
Still, the engine is relatively quiet, although there’s quite a bit of tyre noise – especially on the biggest 19-inch wheels. And despite its sleek body, wind noise can be an issue at higher speeds; rivals are quieter.
In this review
- 1Nissan Juke reviewThe Nissan Juke is a vastly improved crossover, but it can’t rival the best cars in the fiercely competitive small SUV class
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingNissan’s engineers have tuned the Juke for UK roads, but the engine and gearbox lag behind the best in this class
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Juke offers decent economy and is relatively cheap to insure, although average CO2 emissions will count against it
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Nissan Juke’s interior is vastly improved, but it doesn’t feel as solidly built as rivals’. At least connectivity is good
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceMuch more practical than before, the new Nissan Juke should offer all the space a small family might need
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Juke is very safe, while the old car’s peerless reliability record bodes well