New Nissan Juke hybrid vs Toyota Yaris Cross

With fuel-sipping hybrid power, these small SUVs both promise to keep running costs low. But which is the better all-rounder?...

Nissan Juke Hybrid vs Toyota Yaris Cross noses

The contenders

NEW Nissan Juke 1.6 Hybrid N-Connecta

List price £28,210
Target Price £24,974

Nissan’s big-selling small SUV has finally gained hybrid power; it packs more punch than the Yaris Cross, but can it match its rival in other areas, such as efficiency?

Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 Hybrid Design

List price £26,545
Target Price £25,201

Not only is the Yaris Cross the most economical car we’ve ever tested, but it’s also well equipped and competitively priced. It’ll be hard to beat

Considering that Nissan was an electrification pioneer, stealing a march on its rivals with the first-generation Nissan Leaf hatchback, it’s surprising that the Japanese brand has taken so long to electrify its most popular models. Only relatively recently has the top-selling Nissan Qashqai family SUV gained hybrid power, and now it’s the turn of the smaller Nissan Juke.

Nissan Juke Hybrid vs Toyota Yaris Cross rears

The headline claims are beguiling. With a hybrid set-up borrowed from the E-Tech versions of the Renault Clio and Renault Captur (consisting of a 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors and a four-speed automatic gearbox), Nissan claims the Juke Hybrid delivers a 25% increase in power over the regular petrol-powered version and a 20% reduction in fuel consumption.

Those are the kind of figures that make you wonder why Nissan didn’t electrify the Juke sooner – especially when the competition in the small SUV category is so fierce. Take our second contender, for instance. The Toyota Yaris Cross is a similar size to the Juke, but on paper at least, it looks to be just as practical and even more fuel efficient.

Unlike the Juke, the Yaris Cross can be specified with traction-boosting four-wheel drive if you live in a part of the country that frequently experiences adverse weather. However, here we’re testing the front-wheel-drive version in mid-range Design trim, because we feel this represents the best value in the Yaris Cross range.

Nissan Juke Hybrid front cornering


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

The Juke’s 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is quite a bit more powerful than the 1.5-litre three-cylinder in the Yaris Cross (141bhp versus 114bhp), but because the latter is much lighter, both cars feel pretty evenly matched off the line. Mash the accelerator pedal into the carpet and both will reach 62mph from a standstill in just under 11 seconds – respectable, though hardly rapid.

Indeed, it’s only when you start to approach motorway speeds that the extra power of the Juke makes itself known. In an overtaking situation, for example, the Yaris takes an extra two seconds to accelerate from 50-70mph – a latency caused not just by the 30bhp power deficit, but also because the Yaris is fitted with a rather hesitant CVT automatic gearbox.

That said, neither of these cars is designed to feel sporty in nature, and at low speeds the smoothness of the Yaris’s CVT 'box is actually preferable to the occasionally clunky four-speed automatic in the Juke (noticeable only when the petrol engine is running, of course). Both cars can cover short distances on battery power alone, but press their accelerator pedals harder and their engines will fire into life.

Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering

When this happens, the Juke is noticeably louder around town, due to the coarseness of its engine. However, up the pace and you’ll soon find that it’s more peaceful than the Yaris Cross, which produces more wind and road noise at 70mph.

Neither car has a particularly smooth ride. The Yaris Cross feels a little more unsettled than the Juke at motorway speeds and subjects occupants to more side-to-side head movement along uneven roads, while the Juke thumps more over potholes around town.

Both cars handle in a perfectly safe and composed manner, but neither is what you’d call entertaining. While the Yaris Cross benefits from more accurate steering, higher grip levels and less body lean than the Juke, if you’re in the market for a more driver-focused small SUV, we’d point you in the direction of the Ford Puma.

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