What is it?
This is the facelifted version of the popular and distinctive Nissan Juke, a compact crossover that rivals the likes of the Skoda Yeti and Citroën C4 Cactus.
Revisions for the new 2014 version include a restyled front and rear end, new alloy wheels, a different audio system, a host of additional customisation options and myriad other detail changes.
Nissan has even managed to boost the available storage space in two-wheel-drive models, as tested here, with the luggage area growing by 40 per cent to 354 litres. That puts the Juke’s boot capacity on a par with the likes of a many a conventional hatch, whereas previously it matched only small city cars.
Tested here is the manual 1.5-litre dCi diesel model, an engine unchanged from 2013, in the third highest trim level – Acenta Premium. It’s a comprehensively equipped car, replete with a 5.8-inch sat-nav and media system, DAB radio, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera and climate control.
What’s it like?
Very easy to get on with. The first thing that strikes you is the spacious interior; even in the rear there’s ample room for six footers.
The Nissan’s cabin impresses elsewhere. Visibility is good, with the high seating position granting further improved all-round views, and the vast majority of materials used throughout the cabin feel of a suitably decent standard.
It’s also gratifying to see Nissan paying attention to the smaller details. For example, in front of the gearlever is a rubberised pad that firmly locates any mobile phone. Besides providing you with somewhere convenient to put your phone, it positions it conveniently by the USB and auxiliary ports.
There are only a few minor gripes with the Juke’s cabin. Folding electric wing mirrors aren’t standard, somewhat counter-intuitively given the comprehensive kit list, and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach.
The Juke’s split-level boot should serve most people’s requirements but, stowed underneath in another compartment, it’s somewhat disappointing to find only a tyre repair kit instead of a spare wheel.
Nevertheless, the Juke is both practical and comfortable inside – and smart-looking fabric choices and some thoughtful touches serve to deliver an ambiance befitting of its price and character.
On the road the Nissan proves to be a competent car. Its steering is comparitively precise and quick to react, it’s easy to maneuver and it comes to a stop from speed without fuss.
The ride quality, however, isn’t quite what some buyers might hope. In line with the Juke’s purported slight sporting and youthful nature, it’s quite stiffly sprung. While it consequently doesn’t lean to an unpleasant extent in corners, and handles in a capable fashion, it does unfortunately tend to crash and jar over bumps.
Elsewhere, it’s much as you might expect. The economical 1.5-litre diesel engine can be coarse when pushed hard, and always feels slightly agricultural, but it serves up plenty of low-end torque and rarely leaves you wanting.
The Juke’s six-speed manual transmission offers up a short, notchy throw; although occasionally slightly obtrusive its overtly mechanical action does make the Nissan feel a little more involving to drive.
A neat-looking ‘Dynamic Control System’, mounted in the console ahead of the gearlever, also allows the driver to tailor the Juke’s throttle responses and to view various readouts.
It’s an interesting feature – and it does make a difference to how the Juke responds – but its display is otherwise mounted too far out of your eyeline to be of any practical use.
Should I buy one?
The Nissan Juke is a certainly worthy of consideration if you’re in the market for a compact crossover.
Besides being an affable car to drive, with a spacious interior and a wide array of equipment, it’s also competitively priced. An entry-level diesel Skoda Yeti, with far fewer creature comforts, costs £18,055.
The more recent Citroën C4 Cactus does offer similarly standout styling compared to the Juke and, in equivalently specified form cost around the same, but many buyers will likely prefer the fact the Juke is a known quantity.
Alternatives such as the Dacia Duster may further be of interest, and are far cheaper, but offer a much less resolved and polished package.
Buyers set on a Juke, however, should probably consider opting for one of the more refined petrol-engined variants. Even more so if you’re not going to be commuting substantial distances each day.
While the gruff diesel grants the Juke an additional air of rough-and-ready urban off-roader, the quieter and smoother petrol powerplants make it a more pleasant prospect on a daily basis.
The Juke would benefit from a softer ride too but, regardless, it’s still quite hard to fault its overall appeal – especially when you consider its price tag and generous equipment levels.
Nissan Juke Acenta Premium dCi 110
Price £17,865 0-62mph 11.2sec Top speed 109mph Economy 70.6mpg CO2 104g/km Kerb weight 1378kg Engine 4cyls, 1461cc, turbocharged diesel Installation Front, transverse, front-wheel drive Power 109bhp at 4000rpm Torque 192lb ft at 1750-2500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual
What is it?