Nissan Juke vs Nissan Qashqai

* Nissan Juke and Nissan Qashqai compared * We rate them in every area * Best versions named and the ones to avoid...

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Steve Huntingford
29 April 2013

The Nissan Juke and Nissan Qashqai are two of the best-selling cars in Britain, thanks to their appealing blend of SUV looks and hatchback running costs.

Both let you choose between petrol or diesel power and front- or four-wheel drive, but which is the better car, and which version of each should you buy? Here we tell you everything you need to know.

What are the Juke and Qashqai like to drive?
The Juke has stiff suspension that keeps body roll firmly in check, while its steering is sharp. However, you pay for this taut feel with a firm ride, and the car doesn't handle as well as you might expect because it swiftly runs out of grip.

The Qashqai's body rolls a lot more than the Juke's when you ask it to change direction, but few cars are as good at soaking up bumps and potholes, and it's the quieter of the two. The Qashqai will also start to slide quite early if you try to take a corner at speed.

Both the Juke and the Qashqai can be ordered with Nissan's 1.6-litre petrol engine, plus the Qashqai is available with a 2.0 and the Juke a couple of turbocharged 1.6s (the higher-powered version is reserved for the Nismo hot hatch). Unfortunately, the naturally aspirated 1.6 and 2.0 feel gutless unless you rev them hard, while the 1.6 turbos can struggle to put their power down.

The only diesel version of the Juke a 1.5-litre is a much better option because it offers decent in-gear flexibility and average economy of almost 60mpg.

This engine is also available in the Qashqai, but here there's also a 1.6-litre diesel and a 2.0. Of the three, it's the 1.6 that strikes the best balance between performance and affordability, and it's also the quietest and most efficient.

The only versions of the Juke that are available with four-wheel drive are the 1.6 turbos, while four-wheel drive is an option on the 1.6-litre diesel Qashqai and standard on the 2.0-litre diesel. The cheaper, front-wheel-drive models are better buys, though.

Can I get an automatic Juke or Qashqai?
The 2.0-litre diesel version of the Qashqai gets an automatic gearbox as standard, while a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that makes the engines drone loudly when you put your foot down is an option on the 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrols. This CVT 'box is also available on 1.6- and 1.6-litre turbo-engined Jukes.

What are the Juke and Qashqai like inside?
The interior of the Juke is almost as striking as the outside, thanks to 'floating' instruments and a centre console that resembles a motorbike's fuel tank. However, the effect is rather undermined by the fact it's all made from hard plastic.

The Qashqai does at least get a soft-touch upper dashboard, but there's a big drop in the quality of the materials when you look lower down, and the design of its dash is dated.

Both cars score better for ease of use; their controls are all clearly labelled and logically positioned. What's more, higher-spec versions of each come with a simple touch-screen sat-nav system that keeps the number of buttons to a minimum.

No matter which Juke you choose, the steering wheel adjusts only up and down, so some people will struggle to find a comfortable driving position. The Qashqai is better here, offering reach and height adjustment, plus it doesn't have the big over-the-shoulder blind spots of the Juke.

Accessing the rear is also easier in the Qashqai, because it has wider door openings, but both cars are short on rear headroom, forcing six-footers to slouch in their seats.

Overall, as you might expect, the Qashqai is still the more practical choice. Its longer wheelbase gives it more rear legroom, plus it has a much bigger boot, and its rear seats fold flatter.

Which one should I buy?
If you're going to buy a Juke, we'd recommend the 1.5 dCi in entry-level Visia trim; it costs supermini money, yet you still get the best engine, alloy wheels, air-conditioning, four electric windows and a stereo with an aux-in socket.

If, however, you can afford to step up to the Qashqai, it's worth the extra, because it's bigger, quieter and a lot more comfortable. In fact, even now, with its replacement imminent, it's one of the best crossovers you can buy.

The 1.6 dCi is particularly good, and we'd recommend Acenta trim, which gets all of the kit in our favourite Juke, plus a USB socket, parking sensors, auto lights and wipers and dual-zone climate control.

Read the full Nissan Juke review >>

Read the full Nissan Qashqai review >>

By Steve Huntingford