Designed and built in Britain, you can expect a loyal following for the Nissan Juke
After more than a decade the popular crossover which is now in its second generation has set the trend for family cars. Since September 2010 it has been snapped up by over 1.5 million owners around the world who wanted to add style to the school-run and other social outings.
Building on its link with Renault and Mitsubishi, the Nissan Juke now uses a bigger platform underneath so it’s roomier than the first generation which turned heads with its sleek profile and cutting edge interior details.
Those distinctive looks both outside and in are now softened and Nissan has created a design more attractive all-round. The Juke is packed with some of the most advanced driver assistance and convenience features in a family car for under £25,000. Some would only be found on a car costing over £30,000, so no wonder it’s so popular and frequently features in the UK top ten charts.
The UK range is based on six trim levels and about a third of buyers specify the eye-catching two-tone paint scheme is carefully matched colours. Nissan like to keep things simple when it comes to mechanical features and the powertrain is now just a 115bhp 3cyl 999cc petrol engine with a sophisticated direct injection system which provides added boost for overtaking, and a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic front-wheel drive.
The powertrain is very smooth and the silky six-speed manual gearbox delivers a good getaway in traffic but needs frequent changes to maintain that momentum and careful selection for overtaking or you may run out of power, particularly when loaded. The gearing explains the good economy we achieved overall and at times we saw it heading towards 50mpg on long runs. I liked the eco, standard and sport mode button to make the most of the system and provide appreciable differences to responses.
It’s a compact engine and can be noisy when stretched in the lower ratios, but it settled down to a distant hum on the motorway.
What never left though was the constant road rumbles and suspension noises as it traversed tarmac of indifferent quality and you knew how bad the road was by the firm, sometimes bumpy, ride it produced and which was made worse by the 19-inch wheels and tyres.
The upper range and popular Juke Tekna+ seats with their individual adjustable heating did a very good job at trying to soak up the last ripples of that ride quality and their cushions and backrest really wrapped around occupants in a very snug manner.
The front seats had wide adjustment range and I liked the headrest-mounted Bose speakers, which are part of the enhanced communications and infotainment system run from the large touchscreen atop the central console. The system connects to the users’ phones after a while and the sound reproduction is extremely good and the mapping is very user friendly.
The specification includes intelligent around-view monitor, Carplay and Android Auto, lane assist and cruise control, Bluetooth, TomTom and big instruments with several selectable functions.
Separate controls work the heating and ventilation and it did a very good job throughout the cabin backed up by powered windows.
Oddments space is good for a family car but there are no really large compartments to put items although the boot access is very good and without a spare wheel there’s a compartment beneath the floor for wintry items to keep them away from other things and the offset split rear seats easily fold to triple overall capacity.
Access is easy for occupants and while there is now more rear-seat legroom than in the first generation Juke, it’s still a cosy fit in the back and the visibility is not good through the side windows and even worse through the rear window, which can be an issue when reversing despite the fitting of a camera and the monitor system.
In front, the passenger and driver have better sightlines and the door mirrors are big, wash-wipers effective and the LED lights with their distinctive Y-shape are both powerful and far-reaching.
The driver knows the Juke Tekna+ is not a performance SUV despite its looks but it actually handles very well with good steering responses, tight turning circle and no kick-back, well-balanced brakes and handling which is entirely safe and surefooted.
Mid-corner bumps don’t really trouble the system and it generally goes where pointed and if too enthusiastically it quickly comes back online as you ease off the throttle or steering. I always felt very safe in the Juke, partly due to its higher than usual driving position. We were annoyed by the Juke’s body design leaving excessive mud on the door sills which rubbed off on trousers.
So, a decade on and the Nissan Juke has carefully evolved and is arguably the best equipped and most satisfying to use, but whether it fires up your enthusiasm is a matter of personal taste and in some respects, it has not kept pace with the refinement of newer but more expensive crossover models. For the money, it’s a good buy. It’s also British-built and that might count for a lot going into the next decade.
2020© Robin Roberts/WheelsWithinWales
For: Very well equipped and attractively trimmed; good controls layout; smooth operating powertrain, positive steering and brakes, low insurance
Against: Constant road and suspension noises with a firm ride on 19-inch wheels & tyres, poor rear visibility, modest performance, muddy front sills in bad weather and no spare wheel.
Robin contributes to a number of outlets in Wales and the UK, including the Driving Force editorial syndication agency feeding the biggest regional news and feature publishers in Britain.
Robin is the longest serving chairman of The Western Group of Motoring Writers. He specialises in the Welsh automotive sector and motor related businesses with interests in Wales and publishes WheelsWithinWales.uk which covers news, features, trade and motor sport in Wales.
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