The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The original mini-SUV is distinctively styled, good value for money and it’s well built. The chassis and engines are beginning to show their age, though.
Reasons to buy:
- Striking looks
- Lots of equipment
- Well priced
How good does it look?
There’s no mistaking the Nissan Juke – it looks unlike anything else on the road, with its huge front headlights and sidelight pods high on the bonnet. The rear is more conventional, although its rear lights are another standout feature. The sides are full of curves; something that’s not often clear in pictures. You sit as high in the Juke as in many SUVs, but thanks to its supermini width and length, it’s still town-friendly.
What's the interior like?
The Juke’s interior isn’t as striking as the bodywork, with the colour-coded centre console as the high point in an otherwise sober interior. The plastics used for the dashboard and door panels are hard and lack the tactility of more upmarket rivals, although for the car’s affordable purchase price there are few complaints. The door handles are metallic which gives a more upmarket feel, while the dials are clear and easy to read.
How practical is it?
The Juke works best with two adult passengers up front and a couple of children or luggage in the back. There’s plenty of space in the front, although it feels as if the large centre console robs space. Rear space suffers with the car’s sloping, coupe-like roofline reducing headroom and the narrow side windows makes the rear seats feel claustrophobic. The boot is small, measuring just 207 litres, while the Skoda Yeti offers nearly twice that, offers plenty more, and the Chevrolet Trax, and Renault Captur also have considerably more capacious load areas. The Juke’s seats fold flat and there’s some additional storage space under a false floor. It also has a tight turning circle, which makes for easy in-town manoeuvrability.
What's it like to drive?
This isn’t where the Juke shines. The ride is unsettled on most surfaces, and potholes will result in a fair old whack in the backside. Despite the suspension’s firmness, the raised ride height also means there’s a fair bit of body lean in bends, but it’s not as bad as it could be. There’s also not a lot of grip – it’ll wash wide in corners if you take them with enthusiasm. This is especially problematic in the turbocharged petrol models due to their hot-hatch pace, and you’ll also find that the front wheels spin up far too easily when you accelerate hard. The steering, too, is disappointingly vague.
How powerful is it?
Five engines are available in the Juke: four 1.6-litre petrols and a 1.5-litre diesel. The entry-level model is the 1.6-litre non-turbo, which develops 93bhp, but we haven’t driven this version yet. Another version of the same engine has 115bhp, but it needs working hard for decent acceleration and its short-geared, five-speed gearbox means the engine has to work just as hard to maintain motorway speeds. The 1.6-litre turbo comes with a six-speed gearbox for more relaxed cruising, and the extra power provided (187bhp) cuts the 0-62mph time to 8 seconds. The Nismo has a 197bhp version of the same engine for proper hot hatch pace. The diesel unit isn’t as refined as the best in class, but with 110bhp it matches the lowest powered petrol engine for performance.
How much will it cost me?
The cheaper versions of the Nissan Juke are excellent value for money, particularly given the standard equipment the car comes with, but the faster models look expensive. The diesel offers the lowest daily running costs – 104g/km of CO2 and an average of 61.4mpg – but the engine is significantly more expensive, so the car needs to cover a lot of miles before the price premium is recouped. The non-turbo 1.6s emit 139g/km and return 47.1mpg, and represent the best value for most drivers, while the turbocharged models’ emissions increase to 159g/km with consumption dropping to 40.9mpg; four-wheel-drive models increase the running costs further. All these figures are reasonable for the class, but some key rivals are more efficient. Still, the Juke’s funky styling means it should retain a sizeable chunk of its original price.
How reliable is it?
Despite some of the interior trim feeling a little fragile – the centre console can be moved from side-to-side – the Juke feels like a solid car. The low-power 1.6 and 1.5 diesel engines have been offered in other models, and have proved to be reasonably dependable. Nissan has a good reputation for building tough cars.
How safe is it?
The Nissan Juke has achieved the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. Standard safety kit includes six airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, whiplash-reducing front headrests, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and electronic stability programme.
How much equipment do I get?
Four equipment grades are available in the Juke range: Visia, Acenta, Tekna and Nismo. All models feature remote central locking, front and rear electric windows, electric mirrors, alloy wheels and air-con. The Acenta model adds Nissan Dynamic Control System, which adjusts steering and accelerator pedal feel, Bluetooth, cruise control and large alloy wheels. Tekna models include sat-nav with a rear parking camera, automatic headlights and wipers and leather trim, while Nismos get beefy-looking bumpers, skirts and spoilers.
The Juke is bought by lovers of its funky looks, but beneath an unusual face sits a well-priced and well-equipped car. Stick with the cheaper models, and you’ll have an urban runabout that’s stylish and capable.