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.
Engines, performance and drive
While the official line is that the Nissan Juke has been tuned for UK roads, we think it was specifically tested around the roundabout laden roads of Milton Keynes. For that, the Juke is rather adept thanks to bags of grip and excellent body control that resists body lean well in corners.
The downside is that the suspension has had to be firmed up to ensure the Juke remains level in corners, so the ride quality suffers. Oddly, around town, it manages to deal with bumps fine, but once you build up some speed, it starts to feel fidgety. It can feel unsettled and bouncy at motorway speeds, and the constant movements become quite tiring. The far more supple Skoda Kamiq is a much better long-distance companion.
Around town, the quick steering of the Juke should make it feel alert and eager, but its keenness to self-centre gives it an unnatural feel that seems odd next to the well-weighted and accurate steering feel of the Ford Puma. It also can’t match that rival’s slick manual gear change, while the pedals in the Juke have an oddly spongy feel that makes it difficult to drive smoothly in traffic. The DCT auto isn’t much better in this regard, because it’s jerky at slow speeds. On B-roads, you might find it changing down a gear more often than you’d like – especially on steeper inclines.
Buyers will welcome the extra power (and efficiency) of the 1.6-litre petrol hybrid unit. Keep things relaxed, use its EV mode as much as possible, and it’s relatively refined. You can remain in EV mode up to 34mph, before the petrol engine has to cut in, but it is quite coarse when it does so.
Engine noise aside, both petrol and hybrid versions can suffer quite a bit of road 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.
The brakes of the regular petrol Juke work well, while the hybrid version utilises a regenerative braking system called e-Pedal that’s borrowed from the brand’s electric car range. It’s a system that allows you to top up the batteries simply by lifting off the accelerator to slow down. With the e-Pedal system switched on, the car will slow very quickly (much more so than most other hybrid cars) without you needing to touch the brake pedal, as the system tries to generate as much electricity as possible to put back into the battery. Once you get the hang of it, you can almost drive the Juke with one pedal.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine has 112bhp and 200Nm of torque, which pulls the Juke along reasonably well – but only if you keep the revs up. It can also feel laggy, especially if you misjudge the revs when trying to pull away, because it takes ages before the turbo kicks in to deliver the sort of punch you need to merge into traffic quickly. Officially, 0-62mph takes 10.7 seconds for the manual, or 11.8 seconds in the DCT auto, although our official tests (on the manual car) showed these numbers were hard to replicate.
The 141bhp petrol hybrid is the quickest Juke on offer, managing the 0-62mph sprint in 10.1 seconds. That’s swifter than hybrid rivals such as the Hyundai Kona and Toyota Yaris Cross. However, the Juke doesn’t deliver its power as smoothly as those rivals. It’s almost EV-like in its responsiveness away from the lights, but demand more power out on the open road, such as when going for an overtake, and the Juke’s hybrid system seems to confuse itself. After an initial burst, there’s a noticeable delay before the combustion engine wakes up rather coarsely.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Emissions and fuel economy for the 112bhp 1.0-litre model are dictated mainly by gearbox type and wheel size; Nissan quotes up to 48.7mpg for the manual and up to 47.1mpg for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, while CO2 starts from 132g/km, with the manual the marginally cleaner option. While those numbers aren’t bad, the Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Kamiq are cleaner and more frugal options.
The answer to those two rivals is to consider the Juke petrol hybrid, because this model delivers a welcome 20 per cent improvement in fuel consumption. Nissan claims combined efficiency of up to 56.5mpg, which should be achievable - on our test route, we managed fuel economy in the high 40s. The emissions of the hybrid version are lower than the regular petrol, down to 112g/km. Again, those are fair figures, but rivals such as the Hyundai Kona hybrid and Toyota Yaris Cross are still lower.
If you happen to be a company car driver considering the Juke, you may want to also look at its sibling, the Renault Captur. You can get this as an ultra-low emission plug-in hybrid, which could significantly lower your monthly Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) company car tax bill. Then there are also the all-electric alternatives such as the Hyundai Kona Electric, Peugeot e-2008, and Vauxhall Mokka Electric, because these could help you save even more money.
All models get stop/start as standard, as well as an Eco drive mode that helps save fuel – but you’ll notice a drop in performance as a result.
The Juke is unlikely to break the bank in the insurance stakes; the standard petrol model range mostly occupies groups 12 and 13 (out of 50), while the hybrid is a little higher, in groups 14 and 15.
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Our experts predict that the pure petrol-powered Juke models will retain around 51 to 56 per cent of their original value after three years and 36,000 miles come trade-in time, while top-spec hybrid models perform a little better, at 56 to 60 per cent. The closely related Captur fares pretty much the same with petrol versions holding on to an average of 50 to 52 per cent
However, the Volkswagen T-Cross in 1.0 110 Move trim will hold on to its resale value even better, and should be worth 61% of its original price over the same period.
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Interior, design and technology
The second-generation Nissan Juke is instantly recognisable as an evolution of the original compact crossover. The car’s slim daytime running lights and oversized headlamps mimic the old version’s, while the pronounced haunches and hidden rear door handles are another nod to the original.
The Juke shares plenty of common parts with its French siblings, the Renault Clio and Renault Captur, because it’s based on the same platform. The Captur is more intelligently packaged, offering a sliding rear bench and up to 536 litres of boot space. Still, there’s much to like about the Nissan’s interior, including a logically laid-out dashboard and lots of adjustment in the driver’s seat.
The Juke perhaps doesn’t feel as well built or high-quality as a Skoda Kamiq, but there’s loads of kit, and the dials are easy to read. Provided you avoid the entry-level Visia trim, all other trim levels get an eight-inch central touchscreen. It isn’t the most responsive, but at least you get physical shortcut buttons along the bottom of the screen to make it easier to use on the move.
You get Nissan’s Advanced Safety Shield if you go for Tekna trim. This offers various semi-autonomous features such as the firm’s Intelligent Around View Monitor, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Elsewhere, entry-level Visia cars get LED lights, a DAB radio, cruise control and traffic-sign recognition. Acenta builds on this with 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view camera and the eight-inch touchscreen we mentioned above with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, which is much more usable than Nissan’s sub-standard infotainment set-up.
N-Connecta features keyless go, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and climate control, while Tekna and Tekna+ pile on the kit with 19-inch wheels, a Bose stereo and a Heat Pack with heated seats and heated windscreen
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Nissan Juke’s infotainment system isn’t as intuitive or as responsive as the one found in the Hyundai Kona, but at least it’s packed with functionality; all but the very cheapest Visia model gets a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
We’d step up to at least the Acenta to get this kit. Doing so also gives you access to NissanConnect Services, as well as a useful (if slightly grainy) reversing camera. That rear window isn’t the biggest, so this could come in handy when parking in tight spots. Stepping up to N-Connecta adds sat-nav to the infotainment system.
We love the 10-speaker Bose Personal Plus Audio System on Tekna and Tekna+ grade cars. This set-up features speakers set into the front headrests, which means you not only get a much clearer sound, but it’s less harmful to your hearing. The quality is excellent, and works well no matter what kind of music, radio or podcast you like to listen to.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Despite its myriad specs, there is only one body style to choose from when specifying your Nissan Juke. Every version has five doors, five seats, a decent-sized boot, and a roomy cabin.
The driving position has plenty of adjustment; you sit low, and the steering wheel moves fore and aft, as well as up and down. Visibility is fine out the front, but the small side windows and rear windscreen can make parking more challenging than ideal. That might make the Pro Pilot pack that’s optional on N-Connecta (standard on Tekna and above) worthwhile to some because it adds a 360-degree camera system to that model’s standard front and rear parking sensors.
In terms of cabin storage, there are some large door bins and a sizeable glovebox, but the cubby between the front seats is only just big enough for a modern smartphone, and the small area ahead of the gearlever isn’t very useful. In the back, there is a pair of door bins big enough for a 500ml bottle of water.
The second-generation Nissan Juke is 35mm wider and 75mm longer than the original, and it certainly looks more imposing on the road thanks to its raised haunches and bulbous front end. However, at a little over 4.2m long, it’s slightly shorter than a Skoda Kamiq.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The sloping roofline of the Juke means it feels pretty dark in the back seats, plus the small windows might bother children wishing to look outside on longer trips. Adults under six-foot should be able to get comfortable, although those over six-foot will have a much easier time in the practically palatial Kamiq.
Two rear Isofix child seat points are included as standard in the Juke, which helps when travelling with younger passengers in car seats. N-Connecta trim adds an extra USB charging socket for someone in the back seat to top up their smartphone or tablet.
The Nissan Juke’s boot is much bigger than before, and sizes up well in this class. However, while it shares a platform with the Renault Captur, it doesn’t get that car’s trick sliding bench, so there’s no option to extend the 422-litre load bay without lowering the rear seats. Do so, and you’ll create a 1,088-litre load area, which should be enough for most jobs, although the Kamiq offers an even greater 1,395-litre total capacity.
Worthy of note is the Juke’s wide boot opening, which makes it easier to load items into the boot. There’s an adjustable-height boot floor; in its highest setting, you’ll sacrifice some space, but the flip side is that you won’t have to contend with any kind of nasty load lip.
The fixed parcel shelf attaches to the boot lid via a pair of strings and lifts out easily, although it feels super-flimsy, and there’s nowhere to store it. Nevertheless, there’s enough space for a road bike in the back.
The 112bhp petrol model has a maximum braked trailer weight of 1,250kg, while the hybrid version is rated to tow a braked trailer with a total 750kg load.
For maximum towing capacity in a small SUV, look at the four-wheel drive ‘4Motion’ VW T-Roc, because that can tow up to 1700kg in both 2.0-litre petrol and diesel forms.
Reliability and safety
The Nissan Juke is a thoroughly modern small SUV offered with an array of active safety and driver assistance systems: all models get an emergency call system, cruise control with speed limiter, automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning and traffic-sign recognition.
The optional Pro Pilot pack on mid-range N-Connecta (standard on Tekna models and above) adds traffic jam and lane-keep assist, along with active cruise control, driver-alertness monitoring, blind spot warning and intervention, plus rear cross-traffic alert. It is a shame that adaptive cruise and blind spot warning aren’t standard, though, like they are on every version of the Volkswagen T-Cross.
All this tech helped the Juke achieve an five-star rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2019, with 94 and 85 per cent ratings for adult and child occupant safety, respectively. An 81 per cent rating in the Vulnerable Road Users category and a 73 per cent Safety Assist score are impressive.
The Juke continues to drop down in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, falling from 49th place in the 2022 survey to 64th out of 75 in the 2023 poll. Nissan, as a brand, also fell in the best brands table, from 15th place in 2022, down to 19th place out of 32 manufacturers in 2023. That puts it ahead of Skoda, SEAT, Vauxhall, VW, Ford, and Renault, but behind rivals Hyundai, Toyota, and Kia.
All Nissan models are covered by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty that’s a match for the identical warranties offered by Ford, Skoda and Volkswagen, among others. The five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty from Hyundai is still among the best, followed by Kia with its seven-year, 100,000-mile offering. Then there is the 10-year or 100,000-mile policy offered by Toyota – although you will have to keep getting your car serviced annually at a Toyota main dealer to maintain the warranty over that extended period.
Service intervals are scheduled every 18,000 miles or 12 months for both the 1.0-litre petrol and 1.6 hybrid models, whichever comes first. Flexible monthly payment plans are available for around £20 per month, covering servicing costs for the next two, three or four services.
For an alternative review of the Nissan Juke, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...