Most buyers will probably go for the 115bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, and while the short gearing makes the most of its power, it also means you need frequent gearchanges. The other petrol option is a 1.6-litre turbo available with 188bhp in standard guise or 197bhp in the sporting Nismo model. Neither version is especially flexible but they’re certainly fun. Our favourite is the 109bhp 1.5 diesel; it has a reasonable amount of power and low(ish) running costs.
Despite the Juke’s tall stance, it has a go-kart like character that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Stiff suspension keeps body movement firmly in check, while the steering is eager and communicative – particularly in the more sporting Juke Nismo. The price for such a taut feel is a hard ride, though it’s not uncomfortable. Only the limited grip lets the side down – try to get through a corner swiftly and the front end starts to slide quite early.
There’s quite a difference between the various engines. The diesel is a little bit grumbly, and the short gearing of the 1.6 makes for high revs and lots of noise on the motorway. However, the 1.6-litre turbo petrol is smooth and pretty refined, although you’ll have to get used to a little bit of turbo whine. Given the car’s bluff front, there’s not too much wind noise, but road noise is an issue.
Most versions of the Juke look reasonable value – only the Nismo versions and the turbo model with four-wheel drive and a CVT automatic gearbox cost silly money. Modest discounts are available, too, and resale values are expected to be pretty strong. The diesel returns almost 60mpg, while the cheaper 1.6 delivers almost 50mpg.
There’s no doubt that the Juke is a great-looking car, so it’s a shame that some of the plastics around the cabin feel cheap. Still, we have little doubt that it will prove hardy. In the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, Nissan finished in the top ten of the manufacturers’ table, while the Qashqai recieved an average rating for reliability.
Remote central locking with an anti-hijack feature is standard on every Juke, as is a long list of safety equipment, including ESP, six airbags and anti-lock brakes with EBD and Brake Assist. All this helped the car achieve a five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP. In addition, the range-topping all-wheel drive model also has lateral torque-vectoring (varying the amount of power from side to side) to make the car more stable and reduce understeer when cornering.
The stylish interior takes inspiration from motorbikes, with ‘floating’ instruments and a painted centre console that resembles a bike’s fuel tank. What’s more, most of the controls are clearly labelled and intuitive. On the downside, rear visibility is poor, and the driving position would be better if the steering wheel adjusted for reach as well as rake.
There’s plenty of space up front, but the Juke’s sloping roofline means lanky teenagers will feel cramped in the back, and the rear door openings are narrow to climb through. The boot is quite small, too, although there’s a useful storage well under the floor and the rear seats fold flat.
Even entry-level Visia trim has alloy wheels, air-conditioning and electric windows. You can personalise the car, but most buyers will probably be happy to step up to Acenta and get climate control, Bluetooth, an iPod connection and Nissan’s Dynamic Control System, which lets you alter the steering and throttle settings to be sporty or eco-friendly. Tekna and Nismo models get leather trim, sat-nav, a reversing camera and a keyless system, but they’re rather expensive.
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