Nissan Juke SUV
Price £13,200 - £20,805
- Unique styling
- High driving position
- Great value for money
- 4WD only with automatic gearbox
- Not very spacious inside
- Not exciting to drive
At a glance
"The Nissan Juke looks like nothing else on the road... If only it was a little more exciting to drive."
Nissan can claim to have pioneered the crossover idea with the Nissan Qashqai, which is supposed to offer a blend of SUV and conventional car attributes. The Nissan Juke was designed to appeal to someone who wanted the raised ride height (and thus the excellent visibility) of an SUV, but with small dimensions and car-like handling of a supermini. It competes with cars such as the Skoda Yeti and MINI Countryman, as well as with small cars like the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio.
The Nissan Juke is also relatively cheap to run, for an SUV, but it is starting to fall behind some more modern rivals – something that should be addressed when the car gets a substantial facelift later this year. Currently buyers can choose from two basic 1.6-litre petrol engines, a 1.5-litre diesel, and a fast turbocharged petrol in the Nissan Juke Nismo.
Trim levels include Visia, Acenta, n-tec, Tekna and Nismo. All models get front and rear electric windows, air-conditioning, and alloy wheels. Opt for the top-of-the-range Nismo version and you get a full bodykit, which gives the Juke a far sportier and more aggressive look.
MPG, running costs & CO2
No particularly efficient engines - even the diesel isn't tax free
The current Nissan Juke should be one of the more economical SUVs on the market thanks to being both small and available with two-wheel drive that improves fuel consumption over 4x4 models. That has improved thanks to some recent updates but even the diesel engines could be better.
The 1.5-litre diesel (the most economical model) manages 70.6mpg, which doesn’t seem too impressive when you consider the much larger Nissan Qashqai can return up to 74mpg. The diesel Juke also emits 104g/km of CO2 for road tax of £20 annually.
Predictably, running costs are higher on the faster petrol Nissan Juke models and the 1.6-litre DIG-T four-wheel drive auto, can only manage 38.2mpg and emissions of 169g/km for road tax of £205 annually. The basic 1.6-litre petrol is much more affordable thanks to economy of 47.1mpg and emissions of 139g/km, meaning road tax will cost you £130.
If saving money is a big concern (and when isn’t it?), the facelifted Juke (due for release next year) is set to be quite a lot cheaper to run. That said, the current model is a popular car and holds its value well.
Interior & comfort
Not as comfortable as it should be, but quiet on the motorway
The Nissan Juke pays the price for its baby off-roader looks, and raised ride height, by having bouncy suspension that doesn’t deal particularly well with British roads. Although the car's height means the driver gets a decent view of the road ahead – and can look over shorter vehicles – it also translates into more body lean during cornering.
It should be possible to get comfy behind the wheel of the Juke, though, as even the basic models get a tilt adjustable steering wheel and a height adjustable driver's seat. To top it off, it's a very quiet car to travel in, with hardly any wind or road noise finding its way into the cabin.
Practicality & boot space
The Juke is still a small car despite its SUV looks
It's easy to think of the Juke as a big car – thanks to its chunky looks and tall roofline – but in reality it's not much bigger than a Ford Fiesta, and space in the back is at a premium as a result. It should, at least, be easy to get comfortable up front, thanks to the Juke's supportive and comfy seats.
At 251 litres, the boot is also small – exactly the same size as a Volkswagen up!'s, in fact – but all Jukes get 60:40 split rear seats, which fold down to reveal a more useful 550 litres. The Juke also gets extra storage compartments underneath the boot floor, a big glove compartment and two large cupholders.
Reliability & safety
Safe and reliable, but the inside is bland compared to the exterior
Nissan has a decent record for reliability and the firm did quite well in our 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey coming 12th out of 32 manufacturers, although it finished behind mainstream rivals such as Kia, Toyota and Skoda. The Juke could also have done a bit better – finishing 62nd out of 150 cars – in our model rankings, which represents a 49-place drop from 2012.
Although the Juke got only a marginal score for its protection of the driver's knee, the car still got the full five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. It comes fitted with six airbags, plus electronic stability control, and seatbelt reminders for the two front seats.
Engines, drive & performance
Not as fun to drive as it is to look at, but easy to manoeuvre around town
When Nissan built the Juke it intended to offer a small car with car-like handling and a raised driving position, and to some extent it has been successful.
In town, the Juke's height means you get better visibility than you would in a normal hatchback, but out on fast country roads it also means you get more body lean in corners. Also the car's light steering, which makes it easy to manoeuvre around town, makes it less rewarding to drive at speed.
Choosing an engine is tricky too, because all but the DIG-T and Nismo petrol models feel quite slow. The diesel takes a leisurely 11.2 seconds to get from 0-60mph, but the basic 1.6-litre petrol is nearly as slow as the diesel and doesn’t offer its cheap running costs.
Acenta models and above get Nissan's Dynamic Control System, which offers sport and eco modes, although we found it tricky to notice a difference.
Price, value for money & options
All models well equipped as standard, while resale values are good
All Jukes get decent levels of equipment, with even the basic model coming with air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Acenta trim gets useful features such as cruise control and climate control, while the n-tec spec brings with it a touchscreen sat-nav and 18-inch alloy wheels. Tekna models get a reversing camera, plus auto wipers and headlights with top-of-the-range Nismo models adding get sports suspension and steering, a very distinctive bodykit, and sports seats.
What the others say
Despite the Juke's tall stance, it doesn’t roll around through bends. Don’t go thinking it's sporty, though – just a bit more fun than you might expect. Even with the Dynamic Control System set to Sport, the steering feels a little slack and the front end will run out of grip if you try to get through a corner swiftly.
The entry level model will set you back a very affordable £12,795 and with that you get a funky looking car, a decent engine and plenty of kit. In that respect it makes much more sense that buying a bog-standard Ford Focus, which is a little larger, or top-spec Fiesta that's a little smaller.
Visually, there is little this side of a supercar that's as striking. Side-on, it looks like Nissan has taken the top half of a GT-R, stuck it on the bottom half of a Pathfinder, and then shrunk the result while, from the front it's more like a moonbuggy.
The interior is curvaceous, with superficially spiffy plastic inserts which can be coloured according to whim and pocket. They’re not so nice to touch, however, and you quickly realise that the chrome, the piano black and soft-touch surfaces feel uniformly cheap and plasticky.