What's the used Nissan Juke hatchback like?
There must have been something in the coffee at Nissan HQ at the beginning of the millennium. You see having more or less kickstarted the family SUV class with the iconic Qashqai in 2008, it then went on to define the small SUV class with the first-generation Juke in 2010. It was, like the Qashqai, a huge commercial success, but what made that all the more extraordinary was that while its bigger brother was undeniably handsome in a rugged off-roady sort-of way the original Juke had looks that one could only really describe as divisive.
This second-generation version is very deliberately eye-catching without being controversial enough in its styling to polarise opinion as the first one did. It has a new and plusher and more spacious interior, comes with more up-to-date kit, is safer in an accident and, perhaps most important of all, its driving dynamics have been so improved that's it's far more likely to avoid an accident in the first place.
A 115bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol three-cylinder is the only engine available at the moment in the Juke. It comes from new with the choice of either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Trims initially ranged from Visia up through Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna+ and culminated in the Premiere Edition. Visia trim gets you cruise control, air-conditioning and electric windows all round. It also gets you a rather rudimentary infotainment system. However, despite its tiny monochrome screen, you do get Bluetooth, a DAB radio and a USB socket. Go for one in next-one-up Acenta trim and you'll get a much more modern 8.0in colour touchscreen and more modern features including Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring so you can use your phone's apps, such as Google Maps and Waze navigation. N-Connecta trim and above adds a built-in sat-nav with live traffic information, as well as a rear parking camera, cruise control and LED headlights.
Plusher Tekna and Tekna+ models get 19in alloy wheels, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control and further safety aids. Premiere Edition adds two-tone paint and part-leather seats as standard. From late-2020 the base Tekna trim was dropped, leaving just the Tekna+ version, and the Premiere trim was replaced by Enigma.
On the road, that engine is gutsy enough, as long as you keep the revs up. Some rivals in this class now offer mild-hybrid technology on their engines, and next to these the Juke can occasionally feel a little lethargic. It's worth noting that other engines should be introduced in the Juke range throughout 2021, including a hybrid.
Otherwise, it's nice to drive, although the manual gearbox change can feel a little woolly. In corners, the Juke feels surprisingly competent, and it's definitely a huge improvement on the original car. It grips and contains body lean well, but a corollary of this is a rather firm ride at times, which many will find too choppy.
Inside, the driving position is easy to set right, and the interior materials, especially on the higher-end trims, are pleasingly plush with swish features including Alcantara trim on the dashboard and seats, gloss black plastics and chrome-rimmed air vents.
Space up front is good, too, while rear-seat passengers get plenty of leg room, although only an average amount of head room. The boot is a good size for a car in this class, too, and easily accessed, with 60/40 split-folding rear backrests for added practicality.
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