Nissan Juke long-term test review
The original Nissan Juke was one of the best-selling cars in the UK, but this second-generation model now faces much stiffer competition. We have four months to see if it can worry the class lead...
The car Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 117 N-Connecta Run by Louis Shaw, social media manager
Why it’s here To prove that there's more to this second-generation Juke than just distinctive looks, and that it can perform as a practical small SUV.
Needs to be Comfortable, economical and usable around town. It also needs to be able to ferry a full house and luggage on longer trips.
Mileage 2809 List price £22,395 Target Price £19,448 Price as tested £24,835 Test economy 40.2mpg Official economy 47.9.3mpg (combined) Dealer price now £17,942 Private price now £15,948 Trade-in price now £15,543 Running costs Fuel £57.45
24 July 2020 – A small SUV surprise
Remember childhood magic shows? You really hope they’ll be good, but equally you’re not sure what you’re going to get. Fireworks and knife throwing or a man in a sparkly leotard pretending to pull coins from behind your ear. Fortunately, my time spent with the latest Nissan Juke was the like the former; it came as a very happy surprise and formed a package worthy of my anticipation.
Having spent a fair amount of time in the first-generation Juke, I was fascinated to see where Nissan had taken the new model, which is why I chose it for my next car. Despite selling like proverbial hot-cakes, the previous model struggled for interior space, its boot was awkwardly shaped and frustratingly small (smaller than a Ford Fiesta’s to be precise), and I couldn’t get my head around the sheer volume of scratchy plastic inside. Thankfully, the new Juke has put right a lot of those wrongs.
Space is certainly no issue. Wherever you sit in the car (especially in the rear) you really do notice the 20% increase in size. My rear seat passengers said that it was perfectly comfortable in the back for most journeys, though after further questioning, they admitted that they wouldn’t enjoy the very longest of road trips; you do sit quite upright and there isn’t a lot of extra room to stretch out.
Storage space is another highlight. Where you would have previously struggled to get much of anything in the back of the first-gen car, the new Juke benefits from a useful 422 litres of boot space with the seats up. That’s more than you get in the Seat Arona and Skoda Kamiq and I was easily able to get two Brompton bikes in the back, along with a few carry-on cases. The opening is also now uninterrupted by the rear lights, so it's less awkward to get bulkier objects in and out – greatly appreciated when heaving bikes in and out.
The small 1.0-litre turbocharged engine isn’t what you’d call captivating, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the car in town and on short b-road blasts. It never felt underpowered and the fuel economy benefits of a smaller engine were as notable on longer motorway stints as they were on congested city routes. In fact, I was regularly able to achieve 39-41mpg in town; that's hugely impressive and a feat that I’ve only previously managed in a Volkswagen T-Cross.
Speaking of city driving, the Juke really came into its own in the hustle and bustle of central London. Its jacked-up stance was incredibly helpful, providing a commanding driving position and increasing my confidence in those stressful central London moments where 100 cars meet and merge.
Paired with a nice, albeit slightly notchy, manual gearbox and well-weighted steering that responds sharply, I enjoyed nipping around the narrowest of avenues and parking with relative ease. The rear-view camera (standard on N-Connecta trim) is a must-have in my opinion, because despite how its small rear window has a slightly more forgiving rake than that of the old Juke, the latest model still doesn't provide the greatest rearward visibility. It isn’t the best camera system I’ve seen, though; its image is quite small and doesn't have the highest resolution. Fortunately, there are parking sensors to further assist in those trickier spaces.
While we're discussing gadgets, the infotainment system was a bit of a weak link for me. It definitely isn’t the worst on the market (in fact it came 14th of 20 in our infotainment test) but, having previously been spoilt by BMW’s iDrive system, Nissan Connect felt sluggish and clumsy at times. I lost count of how often I’d tap the touchscreen, only for the command to be entirely ignored.
This was a frustration more than a dealbreaker, though, and, overall, I’m greatly impressed by the new Juke. Judging both generations side by side is to highlight just how far the latest version has come, but the real surprise is just how good it is full stop. Indeed, it's shot straight into the upper regions of my small SUV shortlist, alongside the What Car? Car of the Year-winning Ford Puma and award-winning Skoda Kamiq.
Not only does the Juke look fantastic, to my eyes at least, but it’s also now a more usable, exponentially more refined small SUV than ever before. It’s taken two generations, but the Juke truly has come of age.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here