Nissan Juke – The Practical Side Of Cool?
We love it when car manufacturers are brave enough to build something that isn’t quite the norm and doesn’t conform to how everything else looks. OK, cars like this are not going to appeal to everyone and from that perspective, you might think the car manufacturer has gone crazy by building it, but fact is, as long as it “turns on” its target market, its job done.
Rather than being a so-so compromise to please everyone, the car we are looking at today has been carefully thought out and aimed exactly at hitting the spot for its intended customers. However often what makes sense on paper sometimes doesn’t translate too well in the metal and we needed to see if Nissans new Juke is a hit or a miss – with our own “Juke-Box Jury”
Time was when Nissan made cars you wouldn’t shout about, or throw your keys on the bar if you were driving one, but that’s changed and today’s Nissans are super reliable, fantastic value for money, well specified and great to drive and do you know what? Some of them are also pretty cool! and on the face of it, the Nissan Juke, is just that! Pretty Cool!
We have tested almost every Nissan in the past 10 years or so and frankly, we’ve enjoyed most of them and really loved some of them and yep, we’ve hated the odd one too, but you cant win ’em all.
When you head to head a car there is no point in comparing a £15,000 Nissan to a £35,000 Jaguar, but in direct comparison, when we have tested Nissan products, they usually stack up really well against their direct competition and because of that, you just shouldn’t dismiss them.
The Nissan Juke it seems is the latest nice Nissan, following in the footsteps of the excellent but strangely named Qashqai, a car we really like and respect. It’s not just us saying nice things about Nissan either, because in the first 5 months of 2011 Nissan were the 7th best selling car to companies and businesses in the UK, growing their market by almost 19% over the same period in 2010.
Out of 38 different franchises; Nissan outsold Mercedes, Renault, Toyota, Volvo, Honda, Skoda and 25 other household names. To put that into perspective, Nissan sold more cars to the business sector in the UK than Saab, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Subaru, Chrysler, Mini, Fiat, Jaguar, Suzuki and Porsche “all added together”.
So back to the Juke. Its what’s called a “crossover” and what that means is its built on a car platform (chassis) but combines the features of an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) such as a taller interior, higher seating with better visibility, higher ground clearance and of course, moody looking styling. They combine all that with car like handling, excellent fuel economy and amazing practicality, so effectively, you get the best of both worlds. How many of us actually go off road? Not many I would suggest, but it doesn’t stop us liking the way a 4×4 looks and acknowledging that sitting inside one isn’t a bad place to be. So the Nissan Juke will rightly tick the boxes for many of us.
Having said all that, the Jukes styling is quirky and whilst our test car was here I found completely opposing views on the way it looks ranging from ugly to gorgeous and for sure, this supports the “eye of the beholder” thing, but going back to what we said earlier, the Juke isn’t for everyone, it wasn’t designed that way, it was designed to appeal to a certain market and I think Nissan have hit the spot with the car, and for its targeted customers, just like goldilocks porridge, its going to be absolutely right. One thing for certain is love it or hate it, there is nothing else out there quite like this car.
Our test car was a Juke 1.5DCi Acenta with the Premium Pack which includes the Sports Pack, so it came with all the nice bits, such as Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, nicer seat trim, sexy colour coded centre console and chunkier alloys and a fine thing it looked.
First thing about the Juke is its size. See it in traffic and its looks bigger than it actually is, it’s a chunky thing, but actually, it isn’t, it fits in the super-mini class and is built on the same platform as the Nissan Micra and Renault Clio, neither of which you would say were big cars, so there is some optical illusion thing going on here.
The optical illusion also continues when you get in the Juke, because it feels like it’s a bigger car than it actually is and this is highlighted when you try and park it, because it feels like you are manoeuvring a great big unwieldy 4×4 rather than a super-mini. Despite not being a bad driver and having driven the Juke for several days, we were still uncomfortable turning it into a tight gap, not knowing where the thing starts or ends or where the fat bits were and we found that unnerving as we were doing our best to avoid sending it back to Nissan with big bits of it missing. As our car had a reasonable spec, going backwards wasn’t an issue, as the Juke had a rear facing colour camera which despite having seen it on many Nissans, we still rather like.
Still inside the Juke, the trim is quite pleasant, instruments easy to read and the connect Sat Nav is the bargain of the century. Storage is good, with cup holders and a decent sized glove box and there is plenty of room for 4 adults to travel in reasonable comfort, but remember this isn’t an S-Class Mercedes, it is a super-mini. However the Juke offers a good sized 251 litre boot, plus and under floor compartment to hide all your valuables and a 60/40 split rear seat so it blows many of the other super-minis out of the water and its amazing that Nissan have managed to achieve all this on such a small floor pan. Safety hasn’t been neglected either and even the entry level Visa gets anti-lock brakes, six airbags, active front head restraints and Isofix child seat anchoring points.
On the road, the Juke was what we have come to expect from Nissan and that’s quiet comfortable and easy to drive and the view of the road ahead is superb because of how high you sit. Everything worked well, everything was intuitive and there were plenty of toys to play with. Whilst the diesel Juke isn’t a rocket machine, its free revving and the 0-60 time of 11.2 seconds seemed fast enough, although because of the height you sit at, there really wasn’t a feeling of speed, even when you were sitting on the UK max of 70mph. If you want a faster Juke the 1.6 DIG-T will drag you up to 60mph in just 8 seconds and let you run all the way to 134mph. For some reason however, I feel the 1.5DCi suits the Juke and that’s probably the version I would pick.
In terms of handling, the width of the car helps stability in the bends, however push it to hard and Mr Gravity starts to have its effect and whilst there is body roll, the Juke is actually surprisingly fun to push around tight country roads. The Jukes suspension delivers a decent ride over most surfaces, although the Jukes steering is a touch remote, not really giving much feedback and the 6 speed gearbox isn’t something that naturally lends itself to lightning fast shifts.
As for engines, you can choose from three different engines. First is the excellent 1.5DCI 109bhp Diesel which is used across the Nissan range including the Qashqai and of course is the same unit used by Renault in most of their cars including the Clio, Megane, Scenic and Laguna. Petrol options are two 1.6 units, one normally aspirated 85bhp and the other a mighty 187bhp turbo charged lump. Automatic transmission is available in the normal 1.6. All Juke’s are 2wd with the exception of the 1.6 Turbo which you can have with a very clever 4wd system if you wish.
Model line up is the familiar Visia, Acenta or Tekna. The Acenta can however be specked up a bit the addition of a ‘Sport Pack’ or ‘Premium Pack’.
Price wise, Juke starts in at a very reasonable £13,395 on the road for the 1.6 petrol Visia, up to £20,750 for the range topping Tekna 1.6 DIG-T Turbo 4×4 Automatic. The Acenta 1.5Dci however which has a decent level of equipment and is likely to be very popular at £15895.
For the eco-warriors amongst you, there are not any super low Co2’s to shout about, although to be fair, it’s a cross-over so it’s a hefty thing that sits up high and has big fat tyres, and the declared figure on our 1.5Dci was in the circumstances, a reasonable 134g/km which isn’t awful, but it was the fuel economy that disappointed us. When the car was delivered it displayed the 44.1mpg on the dash, which was the mpg the delivery driver had obtained on his journey down to us and we figured we would probably end up improving on that. We used the car for 5 days on a 25 mile each way commute, part city, part dual carriageway and surprisingly, despite running the car in “Eco” mode, we saw our average mpg drop down to 41.5mpg and that’s a long long way off the 62.8mpg Nissan claim for extra urban mode, a long way off the combined figure which Nissan say is 55.4mpg and frankly we couldn’t even match the 46.3mpg that Nissan suggests you get around town.
On the face of it, economy seems very important to Nissan, as the Juke had the option of 3 different modes that Nissan call the “Dynamic Control System” adjusted by the touch of a button then displayed in a graphic display, it enables you to watch the economy, power or torque whilst you drive but we pretty much stuck to the Eco Mode simply to maximise the mpg. We did try the other two modes and yes, there is a noticeable difference between “Sport mode” and “Eco mode” and as you would expect, the normal setting was somewhere in between. So why we (and the delivery driver) returned mpg figures far less than Nissan claims is a mystery, as we have managed to get 60mpg in the past out of the Qashqai fitted with the same engine!
In summary, we know in Nissan, we get great value for money and excellent reliability. We know how shrewd companies and business customers are. They have to tread a fine line between keeping their company car driving staff happy and motivated, but do it as economically as possible, and many of these customers are choosing Nissan, hence the 19% increase over last year ytd and frankly that gives you an indication as to what a credible product Nissan now is and indeed the Juke is no exception to that.
We loved the way the Juke looked; we loved the very idea of it. It’s a designer car that makes you stand out from the crowd and for the cool people out there or for those with Mini’s that are now fed up with looking like an estate agent everywhere they go, this just could be the perfect replacement as the Juke has a real attitude about it.
We said all the way through this article that Juke isn’t for everyone, but it’s got a lot going for it as it’s an inexpensive car that’s moody to look at and cool to be seen in. Its cheap to run (assuming you can achieve better mpg than we could), reliable and offers an enormous bang for your buck and as a final little gift, the Juke has residual values that equal the ubiquitous Mini, which has held the strongest second hand values of almost anything for some years now, meaning you’re going to get decent money back for your Juke when you decide to sell it on, which means owning it isn’t going to be a costly adventure.
I guess it’s at this point I should say “I rest my case” and if you fancy something that’s a bit different and if you are not one of those that think the Juke is ugly, you can get yourself a fun trendy hatchback that has that little something extra for less money than your ordinary family hatchback. We looked forward to testing this car and for the main part, we were not disappointed, but for some reason, when Nissan came to pick it up at the end of its loan period, we didn’t experience the sadness we thought we would. Don’t know what that says, but best way forward is for you to get yourself down to your local Nissan dealer and try it for yourself, but whatever the case, its cant be a mistake to buy this car as it makes sense on so many levels.
For a quotation on the Nissan Juke or on any other Nissan, please contact us.