Latest Nissan Juke test drive

Nissan JukeNissan’s compact SUV, the Sunderland built Juke five door launched a little over three years ago,

has brought an astonishing 85% of new customers to the Nissan brand following on from the success of the larger Qashqai crossover also built in the UK for European markets.

In 2013 the Qashqai finished in sixth position in the new car sales top ten with over 50,000 registrations with the Juke just outside the top ten with over 35,000 sales. Both Nissan models are clear sales leaders in their B and C SUV/crossover market sectors.

Sales in the UK of Dual Purpose vehicles, 4×4 SUVs and crossovers with 2/4WD variants, have grown by 49% in the last two years. Close to 248,000 were sold in the UK last year. They are now the third largest sector behind B segment superminis such as the Ford Fiesta and C-segment cars such as the Ford Focus.

The new Qashqai five door is now here and the refreshed Juke has just made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show before sales start in August this year. The refreshed Juke is not radically different with restyled lights and bumpers, a larger boot and the introduction of an updated 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, so today’s Juke will still not look outdated. The new versions will be launched with a now seemingly mandatory expanded personalisation programme of extra cost options which will push prices up. But that is good news for ‘now’ buyers because with a newer version around the corner there will be some bargains to be had as Nissan dealers make way for the forthcoming new Juke.

I haven’t had a lengthy driving spell in a Juke since its introduction three year ago so it is apt that I found time to sample the current one – the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel n-tec 2WD version officially priced at £17,790. However there are bargains to be had if you shop around and cheaper Juke models are priced from £13,195 but range up to a hefty £22,700.

Currently there are lots of finance offers out there just a quick trawl of the internet found dealers offering a £1,000 contribution to the deposit and Nissan Finance is offering attractive PCP personal contract purchase plans, £189 a month for three years on my 1.5 dCi n-tec road test model. My advice is to shop around because it is a buyer’s market in this sector with so many competitors including the budget priced Dacia Duster, the Renault Captur, Vauxhall Mokka and the Peugeot 2008.

Nissan JukeThe Jukes are virtually all sold in the UK with front wheel drive but there are four wheel drive options with the 1.6 DIG-T petrol 190 and 200PS engines and a CVT auto transmission. For front wheel drive models there is the choice of 1.6-litre 94 and 117PS petrol engines and the sweetest and most fuel frugal of them all – the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel with 110PS.

Depending on the engine chosen there are Visia, Acenta, Acenta+, n-tec, Teckna and the sporty Nismo levels of specification.

It is hard to ‘knock’ the Juke; people like the status of owning a SUV even a small one with only 2WD. The Juke has to be credited with starting the boom in demand for supermini sized SUVs or crossovers and the majority of the industry have or are jumping on the bandwagon to introduce their own models but how long the craze will last? In real terms it is cheaper to buy and run a car based supermini sized hatchback but as so often is the case style out performs practicality.

The urban SUV offers an easy vehicle to drive with their high seating position giving good visibility and being a shade over four metres in length the chunky but funky Juke is easy to park. From my perception owners tend to be younger style-impressed singles and couples or older empty nesters. Even with its five doors families find the compact interior rear seat space limiting and the boot is not that large with the rear seats in place for family clutter. The boot with its sloping rear tailgate only offers 251-litres capacity and with them folded this goes up to 830-litres if the vehicle is loaded to the roof. The next generation Juke has a longer roofline and a more vertical tailgate so the load capacity will be a little better.

The Juke’s exterior styling is certainly noticeable with its compact chunky stance, bulbous front light clusters, a heavy looking body beneath the high waistline, shallow side windows and short length roof.

Nissan JukeNissan JukeNissan JukeInside the front is nicely laid out with logical controls and nicely supportive seats but the shiny plastic trim feels hard, looks cheap and is prone to being scratched leaving telltale signs of careless or hard use.

The n-tec specification, likely the most sensible level of equipment, has such items as Nissan Connect with touch-screen navigation, reversing camera, radio/CD system with six speakers, dynamic driving control system, Bluetooth, cruise control, trip computer, electric front/rear window, air conditioning, electrically operated door mirrors, remote central door locking, a full range of airbags, 60/40 split folding rear seats, front fog lights and 18-inch wheels.

It is a good package with the only down-side being the 18-inch wheels, too large for a vehicle of this size in my opinion. They look good but give the Juke a very firm jittery ride. Again an issue of style over practicality. Road holding is generally good with the tall body producing some cornering lean but it is predictable although the choppy ride of the Juke is its least favourable characteristic.

The 1.5-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel engine produces 110PS (108bhp) with 260Nm
(191lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm and it is well known in other Nissan and Renault models. In the Juke it performs best in the mid range giving good response without having to constantly change up and down the slick action six-speed gearbox. It has enough power to maintain motorway cruising speeds without too much stress. The top speed is 109mph which is irrelevant and the zero to 62mph acceleration time is an adequate 11.2 seconds. Officially this 2WD Juke with this engine will return 67.3mpg in the Combined Cycle. My test driving resulted in a figure of 49.1mpg overall including two long motorway journeys. Pushed less hard on country A/B roads with some town driving the figure was in the mid 50’s. It is commonplace for smaller capacity engines when worked hard for the fuel economy to suffer and this is more so when a chunky style heavier SUV body with large wheels is involved albeit only a 2WD version.

The CO2 emissions are only 109g/km so road tax is zero cost for the First Year rate and then only £20 per annum for year two onwards. In the unlikely event the Juke is used as a company car this version results in 17% Benefit-in-Kind tax for the driver from April this year. Insurance is rated as Group 16.

Overall I can see the appeal of a Juke but it’s a little too bold and brash in the styling department for me. This will not always apply to urban dwellers but if it looks like an SUV it should really have a 4×4 drivetrain, especially given the amount of rain we have suffered from and the perilous state of our roads all the year round.

MILESTONES. Nissan Juke 1.5 dCi n-tec, 2WD, 5-door compact crossover. Price: £17,790. Engine/transmission: 1,5-litre, 4-cylinder turbodiesel with intercooler, 108bhp, 191lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual with front wheel drive. Performance: 109mph, 0-62mph 11.2 seconds, 67.3mpg (49.1mpg on test), CO2 109g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 17% from April. Insurance group: 16E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,135mm, W 1,765mm, H 1,565mm, boot/load space 251 to 830-litres. For: Young at heart styling, lookalike SUV ownership status, good front visibility, easy to drive and park, higher ground clearance, some versions have appealing low prices. Against: Firm and jittery ride, limited rear seat leg and headroom, restricted rear/rear quarter visibility, hard interior plastics, didn’t come close to the official fuel economy figure, limited number of 4WD models.  Miles better news agency

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