Nissan sees its Juke as Part SUV, part sports car, and wants to breathe new life into the traditionally conservative B-segment of the market, providing buyers with a funky alternative to the conventional urban hatchback. It certainly did, with a car which is, to say the least, distinctively styled. We drove both the 110 hp 1.5 Litre Diesel and the 190 hp petrol version, and we were quite pleased with the result…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The Juke brings a sense of adventure to the car market, so says Andy Palmer, Senior Vice President, Product Planning, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. And this it does. It has the uncompromising look of a concept car, and it is indeed directly developed from the Qazana concept car.
From a design standpoint, the lower portion of Juke is pure SUV, with chunky wheels, wide tyres, extended ground clearance and a robust stance.
But the top portion is, according to Nissan, an unadulterated sports car, with a high waistline, slim visor-like side glass graphics and a coupé-style falling roofline. The coupé effect is further underlined by the rear doors which have their handles hidden in the frame of the door.
But then the Nissan designers at Nissan Design Europe (NDE) in the heart of London London and the artists who refined it at Nissan's Design Centre (NDC) in Japan should have taken a closer look at the creations, say, of Boano.
Look at what this Italian designer did for example with the small Abarth 204A, illustrated in our interview of BMW X6 designer Pierre Leclercq on our site. To see that article, just click on this link here.
But then we are traditionalists with a boon for Italian forms and lines, so young-hearted aficionados of more adventurous styling and bolder shapes might just like this Juke very much…
With a very pleasing cabin
We were very charmed by the “ambiance” of the interior, coupe-like and cosy, yet offering enough room also for rear passangers.
It was not difficult to find a very pleasing seating position behind the wheel, with all the controls being nicely at hand. We also liked the good looking round dials, red instrument needles, the centre console painted in the body colour, the practical bins, cups and holes for stowing things.
The heating/ventilation performed quite well, and were very logical to use. Of course we liked again very much the rear view camera and Intelligent Key.
The driver can also entertain himself with the Nissan Dynamic Control System, a central command and display module which allows the driver to alter dynamic drive settings as well as make changes to more obvious functions such as climate control.
The ECO mode display rewards you with stars when you drive economically...
Cleverly, the module adopts different displays, colours and functions depending on how it is being used. In Climate mode, the display shows the interior temperature setting while the ‘buttons' display air-flow preferences.
But in D-Mode, the buttons change to Normal, Sport and Eco driving modes, altering throttle maps, torque availability, steering effort and even air conditioning performance to suit the conditions. The display, meanwhile, shows engine and drive related dials and information. So you can in Eco mode enjoy the results of your driving “eco” talent by reading the average consumption you achieved through graphs on the display, for instance. In the normal mode, it also reminds you whether you are driving economically or not.
In Normal mode you can see the torque delivered by the engine...
Car settings, such as the sensitivity of automatic headlights, can also be adjusted via the system, while the display changes colour to signify what type of information is being displayed.
Driving information incorporates panels giving average speed, fuel economy, journey times and so on.
The Juke is engine-wise a very entertaining car to drive, both in the Diesel and petrol engined version.
The Diesel engine is the well-known and proven Alliance developed K9K 1.5 dCi unit, delivering 110 hp (81 kW) at 4000 rpm.
But it is especially the massive torque of this engine, 240 Nm at 1,750 rpm, which gives the Diesel version considerable urge in any gear, and makes the car a very livery performer indeed. Its acceleration from 0 to 100 is quite good with 11.2 seconds, and the Juke will reach a top speed of some 175 km. But the pulling power in the lower and mid rev range is massive and gives the impression of driving even a more powerful car. Rightly so if one considers that the torque is the same as of the 190 hp petrol engine, of which later here.
The Diesel features a fuel return rail and control unit for improved fuel efficiency. Injection pressure is 1,600 bar. Improved glow plug performance speeds up cold start performance, as we have indeed found out during the cold(er) winter days. The test consumption was very good, we recorded an average of 5.6 litres, which is not at all bad for a 1.2 tonne car.
Emission control systems include a diesel particulate filter (DPF), with a fifth injector for regeneration and cooled exhaust gas recirculation while the turbocharger layout altered to make the distance between it and the DPF as short as possible.
The diesel is available on two-wheel drive models with the excellent and smooth shifting six-speed manual transmission, which has been carried over largely unchanged from the Qashqai.
We were even more impressed by the wonderfully smooth and flexible 1.6-litre Direct Injection Gasoline turbocharged engine. This newly developed unit develops 140kW (190PS) and 240Nm.
A low friction and lightweight design, the 16 valve engine uses direct injection to improve combustion to optimise power and torque, economy and emissions. The addition of a turbocharger and intercooler helps to boost power - this engine is one of the most powerful in its class - while variable timing control for both intake and exhaust cycles (twinVTC) improves low-end engine response. A degree of overlap allows exhaust gas recirculation.
Low friction techniques include the adoption of diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating for the valve lifters and mirror finish camshafts. The result is an engine delivering the performance levels of a normally aspirated 2.5-litre engine but with the fuel economy of a smaller engine.
The engine is absolutely a gem to drive in town: smooth, noiseless, vibrationless, flexible, with enough power available in any situation. We absolutely loved to drive it over the city boulevards, in 6th gear, with low revs, and enjoy its
smoothness and power. It remained almost as silent and obtrusive as an electrical engine, just showing what modern petrol engines are capable of nowadays.
When you floor the throttle, the power sets in: 190 horses of it, and it catapults you in a mere 8 seconds to 100 km. Top speed is a good 215 km, so this car is no sluggard indeed. All this comes with the beautiful staccato when the engine revs harder, the inimitable sound of a thoroughbred performance engine, which no Diesel engine will ever match.
Using the flexibility and smoothness of the engine, we achieved amazing in-town consumption figures, of some 7 litres per 100 km and even less, with an average consumption in the region of 8 litres, which is very good indeed.
The synchromesh of the gearbox was a bit slow when cold, and it needed a sensitive (and patient) hand, but the 6 speed manual was pleasant to use, with very well adjusted gearing.
Lively and practical
The suspension is rather firm, but has none of the (pure) sports car harshness, and the Yuke steers with good precision. The car feels especially in its element in long, fast bends, and feels also quite stable at high speeds.
Agile handling is also helped by speed sensitive electric power steering, and by increased upper body strength and stiffness. The Juke incorporates a newly developed ring structure which connects the upper body to the rear suspension, thus increasing torsional rigidity.
The Juke has MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the back, a new cradle-type front subframe has enhanced the lateral stiffness of the assembly. Along with revised front suspension geometry, this has helped to promote better handling and ride comfort.
The brakes were also hard to fault. The rear seat room is not overly generous, but suits most needs, and the practical luggage area is large enough to take a nine inch golf bag or a maximum size suitcase and it also includes an underfloor storage area which takes its potential capacity to 251 litres (VDA). In addition, the rear seats split 60:40, and also fold in one simple movement to provide a totally flat loading floor. The maximum luggage space is then 810 litres.
The Juke has quite uncompromising looks, but will certainly please everybody by its pleasant ride, its excellent engines an drivetrain, its charming cabin. Combine this with attractive pricing and very good practicality, and one can expect a great future for this car, attracting many (new) buyers in the B-segment to the make…
Hans Knol ten Bensel