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Nissan’s Juke has seen itself become one of the car maker’s iconic models. Those looks you’ll instantly recognise anywhere are complimented by standard features including alloy wheels, air conditioning, a chrome exhaust finish, and traction control. Call us today and we’ll sort a Nissan Juke car leasing choice or contract hire to suit you.
Light, nimble and extrovert, the Nissan Juke was the original small supermini-derived crossover model, combining attitude, irreverence, modish style and energy with a mischievous sense of fun. Since its original launch, plenty of would-be rivals have attempted to copy its concept, prompting Nissan to introduce a whole series of improvements to try and ensure continued segment leadership.
As before, the result certainly won’t appeal to everyone - but then that’s because it isn’t supposed to. It’s aimed at the young and the young at heart, many of whom will continue to love this car and admire its designers for having the courage to do something different. Very different.
Dynamically, the Juke has a wider brief to fulfil than the usual one allotted to a small crossover model of this kind. As well as competing with lifestyle-orientated SUV-style superminis like Renault’s Captur and Peugeot’s 2008, it must also appeal to extrovert style-conscious small car buyers who might otherwise buy something sportier: a Citroen DS3 perhaps. Or maybe a MINI. That means it’s got to handle. Which is quite an ask for something nearly 1. 6m in height and weighing over 1. 3 tons.
Still, as you begin to realise when throwing this Juke around the country lanes, the cleverness of modern engineering means that unpromising statistics like these can still be converted into a car that delivers a satisfying steer. Nissan has had to adopt a pretty stiff set-up to make it all work, but it’s a bearable compromise, especially now that the suspension is a little more supple in mainstream models, creating a car that rides not too badly around town, yet rolls surprisingly little through tighter bends. And you can adjust its demeanour to suit either environment thanks to the settings that lie behind this D-Mode button here, gateway to NDCS, the ‘Nissan Dynamic Control System’ that’s standard on all but the humblest Juke models.
What’s important though at the end of the day is that even if you forget all this frippery, this car really does drive as its looks suggest it should. Or at least most variants do. To be honest, the entry-level baseline 1. 6-litre petrol versions aren’t going to offer you a particularly rewarding dynamic experience, whether you choose the 94PS manual gearbox model or the 117PS CVT automatic. A much better option, if you can stretch to it, is the higher-tech 115PS 1. 2-litre DIG-T petrol powerplant, whose introduction is really the headline news with this revised first generation design. It’s a unit that works well in Nissan’s larger Qashqai crossover, so as you can imagine, it feels even better in a little Juke, sprinting to 62mph in 10. 8s on the way to 111mph at the same time as returning efficiency figures that are a match for far feebler petrol rivals.
The other mainstream Juke option is the single 1. 5-litre dCi diesel model, the car I’m driving here. Its engine isn’t especially quiet but it is a pleasing and torquey, 260Nm of pulling power leaving it capable of 62mph from rest in 11. 2s en route to 112mph. Is that enough to cash the sporty cheque the looks of this car appear to write? If you’re unconvinced, then your Nissan dealership will direct you to one of the top models equipped with 1. 6-litre DIG-T turbocharged petrol power and good for at least 190PS, which means the car will be good for 62mph from rest in just 7. 8s on the way to 134mph.
This improved model gets a revised front grille incorporating the smarter V-shape found on the brand’s other models but around it, the same delicious design details remain. Take the sidelights and indicators that burst up through slashes in the bodywork. Or headlights that are modelled on rallycar foglamps from the Sixties and come redesigned in this revised Juke to incorporate LED daytime running lights and the option of xenon bulbs. Like the door mirrors with their LED side turn indicators, these can be ordered with colour-coded finishing.
Also personalisable though a choice of colours are the trim panels on the re-styled bumpers you’ll find at the front and here at the rear. Just above, below the integrated rear spoiler, the Nissan 370Z sportscar-style boomerang-shaped rear lights now also include LED technology for a distinctive night time signature.
It’s just as interesting inside. Though there are no expensive soft-touch plastics used, you don’t really notice, such is the design exuberance. Take the centre console from which the gear lever protrudes - modelled to resemble the top of a superbike’s fuel tank and finished in either red or grey high gloss paint. The instruments too resemble a bike's, with twin clocks shrouded by heavy cowls. Even the door armrests, shaped like flippers used by scuba divers, are supposed to reflect an active outlook.
As for the boot, well that’s probably the biggest story with this revised first generation model. Its tiny size was the biggest issue owners had with the original version of this car and the biggest reason potential buyers had to ignore this model. So Nissan’s design team went to work, changing the shape of the trunk area to improve capacity by a massive 40% to 354-litres.
The Juke was always a clever idea, launched by Nissan to offer SUV-like style for the small car sector without any SUV-like compromises - precisely the same trick the company’s bigger Qashqai crossover had already pulled off in targeting larger family-sized models in the market segment above. There’s no point though, in starting a trend if you’re not prepared to develop it and in the face of increasing competition, this car needed to evolve. It has.
In answer to crossover rivals that are more spacious inside and claim to be cleverer and more efficient, Nissan has given its second best seller a bigger boot, a far more competitive affordable petrol option and a dose of cutting edge media and safety tech. All without appreciably diluting this car’s strong value proposition.
It’s an original. In every sense.