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Does the Nissan Juke live up to expectation?

The Nissan Juke was a game changer when it was first introduced in 2010. Its quirky exterior style, comfortable interior and affordable price tag quickly made it one of the nation’s favourite compact crossovers.

Five years after its launch, the Nissan Juke still remains a popular lease choice in the compact crossover segment giving rivals such as the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Mokka a run for their money. But can the Juke still live up to expectation in today’s competitive market? Our Digital Marketing Manager Donna Kelly took it for a test drive to find out…

First Impressions

As a fan of the Nissan Qashqai, I was keen to try out the Nissan Juke. While the Juke’s styling may not be to everyone’s taste, it certainly is different to anything else on the road. Thankfully, first impressions were positive. From its high driving position to its radical styling, the Nissan Juke boasts a bit of everything – the style of an SUV, the drive dynamics of a hatchback and the low running costs of a supermini. What’s not to like?

What I found most surprising about the Juke was the amount of attention it received on the road. I’d only been in the car a day when I was stopped by a passer-by who wanted to hear my opinion on it. All in all, the Juke seems to excel in its offering as a compact crossover. But can it deliver a competitive drive?

Distinctive Style

What truly makes the Nissan Juke stand out from the crowd is its unique and quirky exterior style. Love it or hate it, the Nissan Juke’s distinctive design is certainly an acquired taste. Its large front bonnet, frog-eye front lights and wide front grille is different to anything else on the market and make it instantly recognisable on the road. The Juke’s rear is equally striking with rear lights inspired by the sporty 370Z.

In an attempt to keep the model fresh, Nissan refreshed the model in 2014 bringing the design up-to-date. The bumper was slightly modified and the rear end was reshaped resulting in more space and improved practicality. A range of new personalisation packs were also introduced allowing buyers to customise the look of their cars by choosing different coloured inserts for the front and rear bumpers, wing mirrors and headlight inserts.
 
Personally, I’m a fan of the Juke’s quirky style. The front end is particularly striking and its high bonnet and frog-eye front lights meant I was almost able to see to the front end of the car when I was sat in the driver’s seat. Not bad for a car of its size.

Interior & Comfort

Inside, the Nissan Juke boasts a comfortable and stylish cabin. The Juke’s funky interior design matches its exterior style and there are plenty of useful cubby holes and a deep glovebox for storing essential items. A few critics have argued that the plastics used inside the Juke feel a bit cheap and while the Juke doesn’t boasts the upmarket feel of rivals such as Volkswagen Golf, I personally didn’t have a problem with the quality of the materials. What the Juke does fall down on however, is space and practicality.

 

Space and Practicality

One of the major drawbacks of the original Juke was its practicality. Whilst Nissan have made efforts to improve this (boot space was increased by 40% in the 2014 refresh), the Juke still lacks the space and flexibility of other cars in its sector. At the back, head and legroom is limited for rear passengers and the cabin can feel a little cramped and claustrophobic at times. Those with growing families may want to consider stepping up the range to the larger Qashqai for more space.

On the plus side, I was impressed by the amount of boot space available in the Nissan Juke. The latest model boasts a boot capacity of 354 litres with a handy false boot floor which reduces the loading lip and provides a handy storage space for storing valuables or larger bulky items.

Power and Performance

Under the bonnet, the Nissan Juke offers a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. Petrol options include the naturally aspirated 1.6 litre boasting a nippy 93bhp and the new, more powerful (and more efficient) 1.2 litre turbo petrol engine. There’s also a non-turbo 1.6 and a 1.6 turbo DIG-T option with 187bhp.

For those in the market for diesel, there is one turbodiesel on offer – the 1.5 litre 108bhp. Most models come with 2WD with manual or CVT automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is available on the higher-powered DIG-T 190 and Nismo RS.

The Nismo RS heads the engine range with the 1.6 litre petrol turbo engine delivering an exhilarating 215bhp. What this engine lacks in fuel economy, it certainly makes up for in power and performance, making it THE choice for true petrol heads.

Drive Dynamics

Nippy, comfortable and easy to drive, the Nissan Juke performs well on the open road. Whilst its cornering ability doesn’t quite match the Ford Fiesta, the Juke’s light steering and compact design make it fun to drive.

For those after a more focused drive, the Nissan Juke Nismo RS delivers. The steering is weightier and the sports suspension is stiffer. Nissan also claim the Nismo RS can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 7.8 seconds – just under a second slower than the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Model & Equipment Levels

There are five models into the Nissan Juke range all boasting a decent specification as standard. Buyers on a budget tend to opt for the entry-level Visia model which boasts air conditioning, all-round electric windows and 16’’ alloy wheels as standard.

The mid-spec Acenta and Acenta Premium are certainly worth considering for just a small uplift in price, particularly when you get USB connectivity, cruise control, Bluetooth and bigger alloys for your money.


 
The model I took for a spin was the range topping Tekna trim which boasts Nissan’s Safety Shield as standard. This innovative system uses cameras to give you a 360-degree view around the car making it super easy to park, along with other niceties such as lane departure warning, moving object detection and blind spot assist. Add to this leather upholstery, climate control and heated front seats and you’re onto a winner.

Finally, for those who want a sporty edge, the Juke Nismo RS is worth a look. Boasting an enhanced, more aggressive body kit with lowered suspension, black alloys and red wing mirrors, the Juke Nismo RS is in a class of its own. The interior also differs slightly from regular Juke models boasting Nismo badging and soft-touch Alcantara trimmings on the steering wheel and sports seats.

Whilst overall, I was impressed with the Juke’s equipment level, there were a couple of features that I felt were missing from the top-of-the-range model. Personally, I was disappointed to find the Tekna lacked an electronic parking brake and front parking sensors (both of which are available on lower-spec Qashqai models) however these are minor criticisms. Fingers crossed, Nissan will consider adding these features in the next model refresh.

Final Verdict

All in all, the Nissan Juke is a competitive lease option thanks to its high driving position, quirky styling and well-equipped interior. If you’re in the market for a compact crossover with plenty of style and appeal, the Juke is the car for you!

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