When five years is a long time in a car models life cycle, the ten years it has taken Nissan to replace their Juke model seems like an eternity.
Back in 2010 when the Juke arrived, like the larger Qashqai, it swept all aside, fast becoming a massive success for the Japanese brand. Nissan nailed the B-SUV sector to it’s mast with the Juke & it’s been a common site on UK roads ever since.
But, the original model was far from perfect, coming as it did with a pokey interior & a small boot. For example, in 2017 I was offered a Juke, or a Peugeot 2008 at my chosen car rental outlet at Lisbon Airport. With four adults & suitcases to fit in, I chose the 2008, as I knew the Juke’s limitations.
When it was launched, the Juke was different, very different. Arguably, it has taken the best part of those ten years, for someone else to usurp it’s daring looks-hands-up Toyota for the C-HR. It’s original unique selling point had always been it’s quirky shape & this was one of the biggest reason’s that it sold so well.
The trouble with being first is that eventually others will catch up & rivals such as the Mazda CX-3, Renault Captur, Toyota C-HR, SEAT Arona, SKODA Kamiq & VW T-Cross are all after it’s crown.
Our test car was an N-Connecta auto, finished in two-tone Pearl Black with a Fuji Sunset Red roof. Rather than start from scratch, Nissan’s designers have built a car that is still unmistakably a Juke, but now tips it’s hat to the Toyota CH-R, rather than the other way around.
The bold styling is complemented by a high driving position, that adds that large SUV feel. The front of the car, shows off a large U shaped black & chrome edged grille, the circular headlights sit almost where they did before, with the indicator & LED side lights, slimmer & wrapped around the edge of the bonnet. At the rear, gone are the boomerang light clusters, replaced by a thinner, corner cluster. Park next to an old Juke, as I did at the supermarket & the evolution is clear. Side by side though, what really stands out, is that the Juke Mk2 is wider, by 35mm & longer, by 75mm than before, while the wheel base has grown by 105mm, which is most keenly noticeable with interior space. This isn’t surprising, because the latest Juke shares much of it’s underpinnings with the Renault Captur, both utilising the same CMF-B platform & engines. It’s also British built at Sunderland.
The trim level options on the Juke, will be familiar to existing Nissan customers. The range begins with entry level Visia, costing from £17,860, moving up through Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna+ & finally a “Premiere Edition.” which will set you back £24,460.
Spec-wise, Visia comes with LED lights, a DAB radio, cruise control & traffic sign recognition. Acenta adds Apple Car Play & Android Auto accessed via Nissan’s excellent 8″ touchscreen, 17″ alloy wheels & a rear-view camera.
Our test model, the N-Connecta, adds keyless go & climate control, with Tekna & Tekna+ featuring a Bose stereo, a Heat Pack, 19″ alloys & a heated windscreen. Our test car also included Nissans Pro Pilot, a £1300 extra, which offers extra safety features, including Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control, Autonomous Driving & Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
All Juke’s also features a host of other safety equipment, including, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian & Cycling Recognition, Intelligent Lane Intervention, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control , Active Trace Control, ABS with EBD & Brake Assist, plus Automatic Hazard Signal & Emergency Stop Signal.
The cabin itself is well constructed, with a mixture of soft touch plastics & harder, but good quality plastic & chrome fascia. The driver sits in a highish driving position, with the 7” Colour TFT Combi-meter screen in front, which offers up the speedo & rev counter, clock, temperature, miles driven & general car info.
There are five circular air vents across the dash, three in the centre, above which sits the 8” Touch Screen Display. This works well, is intuitive & is clean to the eye. We connected our iPhone via USB, to Apple CarPlay, to access our Music, Spotify, Podcasts & Google Maps & all worked smoothly.
Underneath the air vents are located the separate climate controls, with a 12v socket & single USB underneath these. Our auto box model offered three driving modes; Eco, Standard & Sport, which are selected using a toggle in front of the gear stick.
There’s room for drinks in all four door pockets as well as in the centre strip between the front seats. Front passenger’s have good head & legroom, whilst in the rear, legroom is much improved over the old Juke. Taller rear passengers will suffer from the Jukes sloping roof & the dark roof lining, although great to look at, coupled with narrow side windows, contribute to a slightly gloomy feel in the back.
The boot is a definite improvement over the outgoing model, with 422 litres available, increasing to 1305 litres with the rear seats folded. The boot also featured a movable shelf to create a flatter load bed.
We made use of the increased luggage & passenger space on a weekend trip to the North East, as the Juke took on 400 miles, four adults & a Cockerpoo, plus luggage & won. Yes, it’s still a little tight in the back for five, but for four adults & associated belongings, it was impressive. The passenger comfort comfort achieved, would not have been possible in the original Juke.
Driving on the motorway, the 17″ wheels coped admirably & the cabin wasn’t invaded by too much road or wind noise.I love an auto, but the seven-speed automatic gearbox, had a tendency to jerk at low speeds, pulling away & especially when reversing. In Eco mode, it’s bit slow at regaining momentum when you have to slow down, but in it’s favour, the Adaptive Cruise Control part of their Pro Pilot package, is simple to use & take step hassle out of a long distance drive. The handling is predictable, with any winding roads causing the Juke no issues.
As we alluded to, we drove the motorway leg of our journey in Eco mode to improve fuel economy, whilst flitting between Normal & Sport when suitable. It’s a pretty bland experience in Eco mode & as we discovers, is much more fun when you switch to Sport. Even in Sport mode, acceleration is distinctly average, with 60mph reached in 10.7 seconds. Claimed combined fuel economy is 46.3 mpg. We actually achieved a 43.2mpg return & having driven 300 miles at motorway speeds with a fully laden car, I was pretty impressed with that.
The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine comes with 115bhp, with up to 200Nm of torque, but on the motorway in Eco mode, the gearbox has to change down a gear or two on longer inclines, or when traffic is slow, just to get back up to speed. In Standard mode it’s a little better. Otherwise, I found the auto box & the power offered, surprisingly good.
Company car drivers will want to know that the auto comes with a CO2 figure of 110g/km, equating to a Year 1 BIK of 29%. For those who like me, hate filling up, the Juke with a full tank containing 46 litres of petrol, will comfortably go for 400 mile’s between fill up’s. I mention this, because in the old 1.2 petrol Juke, a 300 mile range was the norm.
Our week spent in the Juke flew by – it was our first press car for four months thanks to Covid 19 – & in all honesty, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the original Juke had charm, it was not very practical. The latest Juke is a far better Juke than it was before, both practically & technically, whilst still retaining enough of the models quirkiness, that made it such a big success.
The competition, having seen how successful Nissan were with the Juke, has evolved too & it’s no longer a unique concept. However, it may not be quite as distinctive as it was before, but happily, it’s much closer to it’s rivals in every other way.
Nissan Juke N-Connecta £22,395