Nissan is now a crossover specialist of sorts.
It currently offers two flavours of the large Murano (2.5-litre 4-cylinder and 3.5 V6), three variants of the mid-size 2-litre Qashqai (including a nominal seven-seater) and two choices of the Nissan Juke. Nissan’s upmarket division Infiniti has the EX, FX and QX.
The subject of this story is the regular Nissan Juke. Compared to the all-singing, all-dancing Nissan Juke Turbo, it has less bells and no whistle (from a turbine). It is also considerably cheaper, to the tune of $26k.
Roughly half of this price differential is due to the less expensive COE – this model is in Category A, whereas the turbocharged Juke has an engine capacity of 1618cc, which puts it in Category B.
That powerful motor is not a fancy derivative of the basic unit that drives the junior Juke – it is in fact a completely different powerplant.
Without forced induction and direct injection, the Juke can no longer chase 6-cylinder Muranos, but it is still livelier than Latios. The CVT efficiently transfers energy to the front wheels, but it exacerbates the buzz of the engine when in a hurry. On a light throttle, the car goes about its business without fuss, although you won’t be going very fast.
The Nissan Juke can carry decent speed through a bend, but its cornering line can be upset by big dips or cumbersome bumps. The electric power steering is about as communicative as a Playstation console, but it is game if you like to steer quickly.
Of course, this 158Nm Juke has none of the torque steer that afflicts the 240Nm Nissan Juke Turbo. The brake system, which has rear drums in place of the flagship’s vented discs, “stops” well and has a smooth pedal action. The ride can get a bit untidy over rougher portions of urban tarmac, but cruising on a well-paved expressway is comfortable enough.
Cabin comfort is good if you and your three passengers have just stepped out of a March, even though the interior is less space-efficient than the Latio, which has a similar footprint to the Juke.
The funky “box” is reasonably roomy, has a useful boot and provides superb visibility.
The cockpit is clearly less well-equipped than that in the full-blown Juke. The most obvious omission is the Intelligent Control Display, a dash of Tokyo techno-wizardry for the digital-age driver.
Push-button ignition continues to be standard, along with plenty of storage pockets and one of the most “user-unfriendly” hi-fi head units we’ve ever encountered.
The performance of this machine is far from explosive, but if you want a sensible supermini in slightly nonsensical SUV attire, you could do worse than the Nissan Juke.
Nissan Juke 1.6 (A)
ENGINE 1598cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 117bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 158Nm at 4000rpm
0-100KM/H 11.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 170km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.9km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE $105,800 (as of June 2011)
Check out the Nissan Qashqai