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Used test: Ford Puma vs Nissan Juke vs Volkswagen T-Roc: interiors
These are three of our favourite small SUVs, but which makes the best used buy: the sporty Puma, the classy Juke or thre comfy T-Roc?...
Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality
Each car comes with a central front armrest, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach as well as height (the old Juke’s wheel went up and down only). The Juke’s driver’s seat is the only one that isn’t available with adjustable lumbar support (you got this as standard on the Puma when new, and it was a £70 option on the T-Roc), and after a while you start to bemoan the shortage of lower back support.
The Juke also makes do with a fiddly lever to adjust the backrest angle; the other two have wheel adjusters that are much easier to use when you’re making minor tweaks. Meanwhile, although the T-Roc’s seat is firm yet supportive on a motorway drive, around corners you find yourself clinging to the steering wheel to stop yourself from sliding sideways. The Puma’s driver’s seat is the best both for cradling you in bends and cushioning on longer runs.
You also get a full digital instrument panel in the Puma. The original owner had to pay £430 to add this to the T-Roc; otherwise, both it and the Juke come with conventional analogue dials.
The Puma’s Sync 3 infotainment system’s graphics look basic and the 8.0in screen isn’t super-sharp. The system isn’t particularly responsive but in the main is easy to navigate, and you get standard smartphone mirroring (as you do with all three) to bypass Ford’s software and use your phone’s apps instead. The Juke’s 8.0in screen is a little sharper than the Puma’s and its graphics more attractive, but it too suffers from lag. The T-Roc has the highest-definition screen and the best-looking graphics, plus it’s responsive when you press the icons and the layers of menus are the simplest to use.
Small SUVs – at least those without a premium badge – haven’t, until now, been championed for their snazzy interiors. This is something we’ve often criticised the T-Roc for, because while everything inside feels as well screwed together as the Forth Bridge and will probably prove just as durable, sadly it’s also about as plush. Seriously, the sea of shiny, hard plastic you’re faced with leaves you feeling as flat as a two-day-old glass of Coke.
Ford has at least tried to dress the Puma a little more lavishly; there are some soft-touch surfaces, but these are intertwined with some flimsier plastics that feel a bit low rent.
So, well done Nissan. This Tekna+ model has some really swish touches, such as Alcantara trim on the dashboard and seats, gloss black plastic trims and smart, chrome-rimmed turbine-style air vents. There are still some harder plastics, but these are not at the forefront like they are in the other two.
You’re unlikely to grumble about the amount of room in the front of any these small SUVs, but what about in the back? Well, all three are fine for a couple of average sized adults, although the Puma is the least spacious for more statuesque people; knees will be closer to the backs of the front seats and, as in the Juke, some hair is likely to be brushing the ceiling. Both of those cars feel a little claustrophobic because of their relatively small rear windows, too.
So, overall, the T-Roc’s rear seats are the most pleasant for two occupants. It has fractionally less leg room than the Juke, but there’s still enough, and it has the most head room and the best view out. However, for three adults sitting side by side, the T-Roc is actually the most cramped. The Juke’s extra leg room makes it the best, while its domed roof alleviates any head room issues for the middle passenger.
With the T-Roc’s height adjustable boot floor in its lowest setting, you can fit seven carry-on suitcases below its parcel shelf, versus six in the Juke. You can fit six cases in the Puma’s main boot compartment, too – but it’s got a trick up its sleeve. Lift up its boot floor and you’ll find a large well that can take another two cases. Or, if you clip the boot floor up against its rear seats and remove the parcel shelf, you can stand two sets of golf clubs, or a couple of tall pot plants, vertically.
There’s even a removable plug at the bottom of the Puma's well, so you can hose out any mud afterwards. All three come with 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks for those occasions when you need to carry even more clobber.
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