The Nissan Juke comes with a wide variety of petrol engines but only one diesel. The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol is fine around town but has to be worked very hard on the motorway. A more powerful version is offered, but it’s only available with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox, which doesn't suit it.
We’d recommend the 1.2-litre turbo petrol, instead. It’s badged DIG-T 115 and its extra power and torque make it easier and more relaxing to drive. More powerful DIG-T 190 and DIG-T 218 versions are available, the latter in the sporty Nismo model, but they’re a bit too punchy for the Juke and can overwhelm the front wheels.
The 1.5-litre diesel has a reasonable amount of mid-range power, but it can be sluggish. Its saving grace is that its low emissions make it the best choice for company car drivers.
Nissan Juke ride comfort
The Juke’s suspension is too firm and jittery. Even though it was tweaked in 2014 to try and solve this problem, the ride remains fidgety. Even at low speeds, the car jars harshly over sharp-edged bumps and crests, and when negotiating speed bumps in town. Hit a bump at higher speeds, and things get very unsettled. Top versions come with larger alloy wheels that exacerbate this problem.
Strangely, the sporty Nismo version actually rides a little better than the standard car. It’s firmer but body roll is reduced as a consequence, so you don’t get thrown about as much.
Nissan Juke handling
The Juke’s steering is quick to respond around town, making the car feel darty and nimble at low speeds. However, it weights up inconsistently as more lock is applied in corners, robbing the driver of confidence. All but entry-level Visia models come with variable steering that has three different settings, but all this really does is add more resistance to the wheel’s movements.
The front tyres also wash wide quite easily through faster bends, while the rear of the car doesn’t feel particularly stable during high-speed direction changes – not a desirable quality in a small family car.
The high-performance Nismo version is, again, a slightly sharper car to drive with less body roll in corners, but it still lacks the grip to compete with conventional hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta.
Nissan Juke refinement
There are quite large differences between the various engines. The diesel is grumbly and fairly intrusive at most speeds, while the short gearing in the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol means high revs and lots of noise on the motorway. The 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre turbo petrols are smoother and quieter, although you’ll have to get used to a bit of turbo noise at low speeds.
Road noise is perfectly acceptable as long as you avoid the larger wheels. The manual gearboxes have a tight, narrow gate that can make smooth changes difficult, while the clutch has a fairly heavy action, too.
Unless you really need an automatic, we’d avoid the CVT 'box on offer. It’s noisy and doesn’t feel particularly positive, flaring and holding the revs high when you accelerate.
This unit produces a modest 93bhp and very little torque, and is the least powerful petrol engine in the range. It needs to be worked incredibly hard to maintain decent forward progress and emits a lot of CO2, raising its VED liability. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard.
1.6 Xtronic CVT
A punchier version of the 1.6 petrol with slightly more power and torque, but only available with a CVT. It’s even less efficient than the lower powered manual version but, at least on paper, it’s slightly quicker off the line.
1.2 DIG-T 115
This small turbo engine is altogether more refined and efficient than the 1.6-litre petrol. It has a decent amount of low-down pulling power, and is faster and more flexible. Its VED costs are lower, too.
1.6 DIG-T 190
This is a highly tuned and turbocharged version of the 1.6-litre petrol engine. It’s seriously powerful and almost produces too much for the front wheels to handle, so it’s also available with four-wheel drive to enhance traction. This four-wheel-drive version is only offered with the Xtronic CVT gearbox, however.
1.6 DIG-T 200 Nismo
Available in either front or four-wheel-drive guises, the Nismo has a tweaked 1.6-litre turbo petrol that produces 197bhp and 184lb ft of torque, granting it a 0-62mph time of just 7.8 seconds. It does emit quite a lot of CO2, though, and lacks refinement when you accelerate hard.
1.5 dCi 110
The only diesel option in the range is this rather noisy 1.5-litre unit. It’s flat and unresponsive at low revs, and noisy under load and at idle. It does have a six-speed manual gearbox and start/stop system as standard, though, so its CO2 emissions are low, making it the cheapest Juke to run as a company car.