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Driven: Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T Tekna+. Image by Nissan UK.

Driven: Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T Tekna+
The ‘Fiesta Popular Plus’ of the 2010s doesn’t just look better inside and out, it drives more sweetly too.

   



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Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 117 Tekna+

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: smart looks, quality cabin, good kit count, excellent ride and refinement, charismatic engine

Not so good: not thrilling to drive, bit pricey as a Tekna+, cramped rear seats

Key Facts

Model tested: Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 117 Tekna+
Price: Juke range from £18,360, 1.0 117 Tekna+ from £24,860, car as tested £25,030; or, 117 Tekna+ from £374pcm across 36-month contract with £1,500 deposit and £500 deposit contribution, optional final payment £12,037.04 (4.99% APR representative example)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door compact crossover
CO2 emissions: 141g/km (VED Band 131-150: £215 in year one, then £150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 45.6mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Power: 117hp at 5,250rpm
Torque: 180Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm (limited-time overboost 200Nm at 1,750-3,750rpm)
Boot space: 422-1,305 litres

Our view:

It's easy to be snobbish about the original Nissan Juke. Plenty of people seem to have an irrational hatred of it, but such strong feelings can't be down to the first generation's shortcomings. Sure, it had a fairly drab, plain-looking interior, the rear-seat space wasn't that great, the boot was small and it had looks that only a mother could love. But it was perfectly proficient, perfectly capable of doing mundane A-to-B stuff, perfectly proven of creaming a huge amount of sales in its market sector and, arguably, doing more to propagate the current spread of the crossover-type vehicle than even its big brother Qashqai.

There were a couple of Nismo models, too, in the first Juke's family and you still see plenty of these high-performance Mk1 derivatives on the roads today, so it's clear a go-faster model wasn't a totally ridiculous idea as owners seem to hold onto them for a good period of time. Indeed, the Nissan's unmatched market success is perhaps what irks opponents of the Juke the most; they can't understand why something so average was such a hit with the buying public.

Well, we never subscribed to that view. No, we're not about to say we raved about the Juke Mk1 but we never detested it and it was better than quite a few of its rivals from companies which ought to know better - see the risible Ford EcoSport and the Vauxhall Mokka for details. However, that said, having now spent a thoroughly pleasant week with a 1.0-litre Tekna model, it's clear to see that the second-generation Juke is a big step onwards from its predecessor. It ought to make a few of the Mk1's critics also seriously sit up and take notice of it, too.

Its impressive showing starts with the exterior styling, which is Juke-ish enough that you instantly know it's the B-segment Nissan crossover, but isn't quite as gawky and painfully 'striving to be different' as its predecessor. Neat 'Y' details in its headlights, sharper design lines all across the body and a two-tone colour scheme on grander models like this one ensure that what you have here is a good-looking mini-SUV - the Juke Mk2 remains distinctive without being divisive.

The biggest improvement is in the interior, though, where the previous model's drab and functional cabin has been replaced by one with plenty of visual interest and quality touches. Things like the five round air vents, the piano-black trim finishers, the Alcantara pads on the dashboard and the door cards, the classy and supportive seats, and the clear and concise instrumentation all give off a prestige air, rather than being some sort of grey-plastic explosion of unrelenting cost-effectiveness. True, the rear-seat space remains on the cosy rather than the capacious side, but the Juke is no worse in this regard than several of its main competitors and it more than makes up for it with a sizeable 422-litre boot at the back of the car.

It also packs a lengthy and generous kit list as a Tekna+, although bear in mind that this is the top of five specification grades for the Juke Mk2 and, as a result, it starts at £24,860 (£374pcm) or a shade beyond £25,000 with the funky Fuji Red with Black roof colour scheme at £170. But that's the only cost option for this sort of outlay, so as well as a list of advanced driver assist systems as long as your arm, it comes with things like Intelligent Cruise Control linked to Traffic Sign Recognition, 19-inch alloys, heated and auto-folding electric door mirrors, privacy glass, leather and Alcantara upholstery, a multifunction leather steering wheel (which is very nice to hold, we might add), 60:40 split-folding rear seats, front heated seats, ambient interior lighting, a heated front windscreen to go with the rear, automatic climate control, an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster screen, a Bose Personal Plus Audio system with eight speakers, keyless entry and go, and an Intelligent Around View Monitor camera system, among much more. In short, a Juke Tekna+ feels plush enough to be every inch a 25-grand car.

It's also much nicer to drive than its immediate forebear, if not hugely entertaining for a bit of, um, spirited motoring. This, despite the fact the steering is now much more positive and precise than it was before, while the body is admirably controlled during faster cornering without sacrificing much in the way of ride comfort when needs be. However, it's not going to put drivers of the Ford Puma in a cold sweat, although that's not a drawback of the Nissan because the Mk2 Juke's real strength is its refinement.

Under the bonnet is the new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 117hp, which we last tried in a Nissan Micra Mk5. We liked it then and we like it just as much in the slightly larger crossover, where it provides willing performance and is allied to a lovely, slick six-speed manual. There is some turbo lag on this engine if you're not careful with it, but in general the three-pot ensures the Juke is usefully nippy for town driving yet also well capable of cruising serenely along on a motorway. Strangely, our best return in the Tekna+ was 51.3mpg on local A- and B-roads, although an overall 40.1mpg is not bad at all for a 1.6-metre tall vehicle like the Nissan; thank its 1,199kg kerb weight for that.

It's just a lovely thing to travel in all round, though, and so it will no doubt delight the people who take a punt on it. But then, the old Mk1 didn't struggle for sales, did it? So did Nissan really need to make the Juke so much better? Is the argument here that no matter what a manufacturer serves up to its customers, as long as it's a crossover-y-type SUV-shaped thing, the public will lap it up regardless of how good (or otherwise) it is? Maybe. Yet don't let that detract from the fact the Nissan Juke is, among the B-segment crossover class, one of the finest things you can buy right now. And that counts equally whether you hated the Mk1 model or not.

Alternatives:

Citroen C3 Aircross: similarly funky in appearance, the Citroen majors on comfort long before it worries about performance or handling. Rather likeable, as a result.

Honda HR-V: ageing now and comparatively staid to look at, both inside and out, yet the HR-V still has its Magic Seats in the back and also a needlessly excellent 182hp Sport flagship model.

SEAT Arona: along with the Puma, our favourite in the class and arguably the segment leader. Arona has a sparkling chassis, smooth drivetrains to go at, and understated yet attractive looks outside and in.


Matt Robinson - 25 Jun 2020



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2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.

2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.2020 Nissan Juke 1.0 Tekna+ Driven UK. Image by Nissan UK.








 

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