ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: NISSAN JUKE
If you think all new cars look the same, DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says Nissan’s new Juke will make you think again.
SO all new cars are supposed to look the same, are they? Looks like someone forgot to tell Nissan!
This is certainly one wacky car – it looks like something that has come to life from a designer’s drawing board, or one of the stars of the animated film Cars which has somehow made the jump into reality.
Fun? Yes. Funky? Yes. But would you buy one? Hmmm. That’s harder to answer. Although plenty of people have already taken the plunge I do think its crazy looks will put some potential customers off.
I was among the first journalists to see this car after it was transported overnight from a European Motor Show to Silverstone to make its debut to the British media at a driving day, and was introduced by Nissan’s managing director.
As the covers were pulled off, it was an instant hit with some fairly sceptical motoring hacks who loved its outrageous looks from the moment they first set eyes on it. Others simply dismissed it as ugly.
The designers have been allowed to exercise their imaginations with this car, and it’s not just the outside which is different.
Inside the car I’ve been testing, the centre console was finished in a metallic red colour, which looks great now when it’s new, but I wonder how well it will stand up to abuse from younger members of the family.
My own family loved it because it is so different, but its outlandish, bug-eyed looks and high stance combine to make the car appear to be larger than it really is, and if you carry five adults, the three in the back are quite squashed. The boot isn’t very big either, although there is some extra space below the boot floor, and the fuel tank, at only 46 litres, is small, which limits the car’s range between fill-ups. Taking all these things into account you will begin to see the Juke’s positioning as a funky town car, rather than a long distance traveller.
That said, it was perfectly happy tackling a motorway trip to Leeds, and with just two, or even four people on board, it is fine, although my adult rear passengers said the back of the car felt a bit claustrophobic because of the high rear window line. That, of course, was after they managed to get into the back of the car in the first place – the rear door handle is located at the back of the rear window, leaving room for the shapely bodywork beneath it.
Classed as a Compact Crossover model, Nissan is hoping to build on the tremendous success it has enjoyed with the larger Qashqai. It is available with petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic gearboxes, and two or four wheel drive, so there is something in the line-up to suit everyone, and with prices starting from £13,000, it won’t break the bank.
Equipment levels are good, too. There are three basic trim choices, Visia, Acenta and Tekna, plus Sport or Premium packs on the mid-range Acenta.
The equipment levels are good, and I loved the central panel on the dash called the D-Mode computer, which controls the heating or the car’s dynamic set-up at the push of a button, which also changed the lettering on those buttons. There was even a G-force meter to show how much the car is leaning into corners.
The performance from the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine in my test car was quite impressive as it pulled strongly through the gears. It also cruised quietly on the motorways. Normal, Sport or Eco modes can be used to adjust the throttle and steering responses, but they did nothing to improve the ride quality, which I thought was a bit fidgety, mainly because of the relatively high ride height and therefore necessarily firm suspension set-up.
Another point worth mentioning is something you wouldn’t notice on a normal test drive at your local dealer, and that is the effect of the lights which sit proud of the front wings and are visible from the front seats when the lights are on at night. While I wasn’t sure if I liked being able to see the top of the lights at night, or not, my wife was quite certain she did not, finding them a distraction which made the car more difficult to place on the road. I have to admit I can see her point, so if you’re thinking of buying one, take a tip from me and test drive it in the dark.
The Juke’s wacky, bug-eyed looks are brilliant and it certainly has lots of appeal, but it is one of those cars which you need to examine more closely before choosing a Juke over any of its rivals, some of which, it has to be said, are equally odd.
Whether Nissan will replicate the success it has enjoyed with the Qashqai with this latest addition to the range, only time will tell, but I take my hat off to them for trying.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Nissan Juke Acenta Sport.
NISSAN JUKE RANGE: From 1.6 Visia 5dr (£12,995) to 1.6 DiG-T Tekna 4WD 5dr (£20,345).
ENGINE: 1618cc, 190PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 134mph. 0-62mph in 8.0 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 31.0mpg.
Fuel tank: 46 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 159g/km.
INSURANCE: Group 20.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.