“ Discussion Type: Motors - Nissan Juke „
Dooyoo tell me that this "in general" type of review is treated as a discussion rather than a product review, so I will try to follow that format.
The Juke is Nissan's smaller crossover model following on from the amazing success of their larger Qashqai crossover model (Nissan's first top ten best seller for more than 20 years). It is probably worth expanding a bit on what a crossover model is, particularly as it is now a rapidly expanding area of the market. The main characteristic of crossovers is that they more or less resemble 4X4s or SUVs while mechanically they are closely based on a conventional hatchback: in the case of the Qashqai it is related to the Renault Mégane (Renault and Nissan formed an alliance in 1999) while the Juke shares its platform with the latest Nissan Micra and Note. The benefit of this approach is that that crossovers generally drive like a regular hatchback while purchase and running costs are much lower than a typical 4X4, if not quite so keen as for a standard hatchback.
Most Juke models use a simple front wheel drive layout though a four wheel drive model is available but only in combination with a turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It is therefore the most expensive model at around £20K. A popular choice is the 1.5 diesel engine (courtesy of Renault). Developing 110 PS in this installation and combined with a 6 speed gearbox this is enough for lively performance while returning very good fuel consumption (55 mpg on the combined cycle). The basic 1.6 petrol is the cheapest option if a bit tiring on the motorway thanks to lowish overall gearing and only five gears. Official fuel consumption is a reasonable if not exceptional 44 mpg.
There's no doubt that the most striking thing about the Juke is its appearance. Allegedly meant to resemble a motorcycle helmet in its glass-line, the Juke rides high on its over-sized wheels projecting a cutely ugly frog-like "face". The waistline is high too while the roofline drops in coupé fashion at the rear. The interior also has a motorcycle theme with the centre console shaped and coloured to look like a motorcycle tank. This is all a little odd to me as motorcycles and motorcyclists continue to have a reputation for being dangerous and antisocial yet the image of the Juke seems aimed particularly at women. At least most of those I have seen on the road have been driven by women of, shall we say, a certain age.
So does this produce a good car you may wonder? The tried and tested mechanical components shared with other small Nissan and Renault models should make for reliability - and keep costs down - while the distinctive styling is winning sales. On the road you have the benefits of a raised driving position giving better forward visibility at least though the styling makes rear visibility quite poor. The rear seats also lack headroom and knee room and feel claustrophobic on a long journey thanks to the very high waistline. There is also less boot space than in the conventionally styled Nissan Note. The hard bottom-numbing seats are a typical Nissan failing. It drives well enough in most respects - though I thought it a little noisy in the back especially it was no worse than most small hatchbacks. The gimmicky centre console with its G-force meters and other gadgets may give the salesman something to talk about but will you ever need to use them?
In summary then I would echo the general opinion that Nissan's bold and distinctive styling is to be congratulated (how few stylish Nissan models there have been over the years!) while basing the mechanicals on a mainstream hatchback model makes economic and practical sense. The only fly in the ointment is what Nissan might do when the styling starts to date (look what Fiat has done to its original Multipla and Dobló models). And in these hard times many buyers might do the sums and work out they will be better off with a standard hatchback model costing that little bit less to buy and run. But then the Juke's role may turn out to be getting the buyers to come into the showroom in the first place...