They both offer head-turning looks and similarly modest buying and owning costs, but there are some big differences between the two.
What are the Juke and Captur like to drive?
These cars are primarily designed as urban runabouts, so being comfortable and easy to drive is vital.
The Captur fits the brief better than the Juke. Its suspension deals well with bumps around town and its light controls help make manoeuvres painless.
Head on to faster roads and the ride is a little unsettled, but the Captur handles securely and is pretty quiet, so it’s not bad on long journeys.
Three engines are available: 0.9 and 1.2-litre turbocharged petrols, and a 1.5-litre diesel. All the engines give perfectly acceptable performance if you’re not in a hurry, but can feel slow if you want to overtake something on the motorway. Our favourite is the 0.9, and it makes particular sense if you drive mostly in town. The diesel engine is impressively smooth, but you’d have to do plenty of miles a year to make a financial case for it.
The Juke feels pretty different to drive, and not necessarily in a good way. It picks up on most lumps and bumps around town, and its gearchange is notchy. It handles tidily enough, but the vague steering is off-putting at higher speeds, as is the amount of road noise.
Like the Captur, the Juke is best with an entry-level engine. The 93bhp 1.6 petrol is our favourite because it’s nippy enough and pretty quiet (a 115bhp version is also available, but it comes in more expensive trims only). The 1.6 turbos aren’t worth it; they’re quick when worked hard, but aren’t particularly gutsy from low revs. You can say the same about the 1.5 diesel, which is also noisy.
Can I get an automatic Juke or Captur?
The Juke comes with the option of a CVT automatic gearbox. It’s available with the 115bhp 1.6-litre petrol and costs an extra £1000; this means that the cheapest automatic Juke is £15,995. You can also get the CVT ’box with both 1.6 turbo engines, but these start from £20,000 so are far too expensive to recommend.
An automatic gearbox is available on petrol and diesel versions of the Captur, albeit in the more expensive trim levels. The 1.2 petrol comes with an automatic gearbox as standard; prices start at £17,195. Auto diesels are £1000 more than the manuals and start at £17,395.
What are the Juke and Captur like inside?
The Juke is almost as striking inside as it is outside, especially if you go for one of the more lurid centre console colours. Finding a comfortable driving position could be an issue, because the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach. There’s decent space up front, but head- and kneeroom are tight in the rear seats. Small rear doors make access tricky, too, so bear that in mind if you need to install a child seat. You also won’t get much luggage in the compact boot, and over-the-shoulder visibility is poor.
The Captur is more practical. There’s more headroom front and rear, plus a far bigger boot with a larger opening. It’s not great for kneeroom in the back, but at least you can slide the rear seats back and forth to maximise luggage or passenger space. It’s also easier to get settled behind the wheel than in the Juke, although the seats are a little short of lower-back support.
Neither car is especially plush inside; the plastics feel cheap and don’t look particularly appealing. There’s not a huge amount of cabin storage, either.
The Juke is available in six trim levels. We’d stick with entry-level Visia trim because it has the basics, including air-con, alloys and four electric windows. There’s a jump of between £1495 and £2000 up to Acenta trim, which brings climate control, Bluetooth, an iPod connection and larger wheels. If you like plenty of toys it’s probably worth spending another £1000 on an Acenta Premium, which also has a touch-screen sat-nav system, a reversing camera and an upgraded stereo. The other trims are too pricey.
You can choose between four trim levels on the Captur. The cheapest doesn’t come with much kit, so you’ll at least want an Expression+ model. We think it’s worth spending an extra £1000 for a Dynamique MediaNav version, though. This comes with a slick touch-screen sat-nav system, climate control and Bluetooth.
Which one should I buy?
The Captur is the better car. It’s more comfortable, more practical and uses less fuel than the Juke. We’d go for the 0.9 TCe Dynamique MediaNav, which costs £14,995. It’s only just gone on sale, so discounts are still fairly small, but you should be able to get around £500 off.
If you’re sold on the looks of the Juke, the cheaper models are the ones to go for. The 1.6 Visia offers the best blend of price, equipment and performance, and will set you back just £12,995.
If you’re a company car driver, you’ll also be better off with the Renault. Despite having a higher price, our favourite Captur’s lower CO2 emissions mean it’ll actually cost slightly less in company car tax than the Juke.