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Driven: 2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.

Driven: 2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117
The Juke has matured, but has it improved?

   



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2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117

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The old Nissan Juke was something of a phenomenon, almost single-handedly making the case for divisive design and style over substance. But the Juke has matured in recent years, with more restrained styling and marginally improved quality. So does the compact SUV now deserve its place among the most popular small crossovers?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117
Pricing: £25,860 (as tested)
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat compact SUV
CO2 emissions: 116g/km
Combined economy: 44.1mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 11.1 seconds
Power: 117hp
Torque: 180Nm (200Nm with overboost)
Boot space: 422-1,305 litres

What's this?

Itís obviously a Nissan Juke, but one thatís had a bit of nip-and-tuck surgery. Nissan was clearly no longer content with its compact SUV being a quirky option among a host of grown-up models, so it sent the Juke to finishing school. Now more restrained, more mild-mannered and better put together than before, can it compete with its increasingly accomplished rivals.

While the exterior design may be toned down compared with the old Juke, the new model has plenty of style in hand. In fact, we think itís better looking than its predecessor, with a more modern feel and a little less wackiness for the sake of wackiness.

The interior has had much the same treatment, with some more modern styling and a lift in quality, but the basic theme of modern funkiness remains. A central touchscreen protrudes from quite a sporty dashboard, which is wrapped in some supple leather trim. Weíre particularly fond of the snazzy speakers embedded in the supportive front seats, although their appeal is primarily aesthetic Ė they donít move mountains when it comes to sound quality.

Still, overall build quality is largely improved, which means the Juke finally offers the cabin plastics and solidity you expect from a Japanese car. Yes, there are some ropey plastics kicking around, and some of them are more obvious than you might like, but thatís par for the course in cars such as this, where profit margins are tight. Nevertheless, the Juke manages to feel both robust and relatively tactile, which is enough to put it up with the best-built models in this competitive class.

Happily, itís also much more spacious than its predecessor, which was heavily criticised for its cramped rear bench. The new Juke is much more commodious, with adequate capacity for two adults in the rear seats, although taller passengers will find headroom limited. Legroom is perfectly acceptable, though, and kids will have no qualms at all. That said, our test carís dark roof lining and tinted windows made the back seats feel even more cramped than they would ordinarily feel, so those who regularly carry passengers in the back might want to pick a lighter tone and think twice about tinted glass.

Boot space has also improved, with the new Juke claiming a 422-litre luggage bay thatís slightly larger than that of a Seat Arona. Itís even bigger than the boot in a VW Golf, so itís more than roomy enough to carry the day-to-day family stuff. Just be aware that the only way of accessing all the space is by adjusting the boot floor, which leaves a massive lip over which you have to haul heavy items when loading or unloading.

As well as all that space, the Juke comes with plenty of standard equipment, LED headlights, Bluetooth and cruise control are included across the range, but our top-end Tekna+ test car was even more lavishly kitted out. Automatic climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen navigation system and 360-degree parking camera were all fitted as standard, along with a heated windscreen and heated seats. And thatís before we talk about the styling stuff, such as the 19-inch alloy wheels and leather upholstery.

All that is included in the Tekna+ís £25,700 starting price, although the options fitted to our test car took the price up to £25,860. Even so, thatís decent value for money when a Volkswagen T-Cross R-Line costs almost £26,500 and isnít quite as well appointed. And if you can cope with a less luxurious Juke, itís even better value, with the mid-range Acenta Ė arguably the pick of the range Ė starting at £20,800.

But although the Juke may be better equipped than some of its rivals, it does have its drawbacks. The touchscreen, for example, is an improvement on the old Juke, but only a minor one. It still feels a bit clunky and old-school at times, and the likes of the T-Cross and Arona have much more modern systems. The same goes for the driver displays, with high-end alternatives to the Juke offering digital instrument clusters as standard, whereas the Nissan sticks with analogue dials. Thereís nothing wrong with them Ė especially with the high-tech trip computer between them Ė but they donít have the premium feel of a digital display.

How does it drive?

Exactly the same way its predecessor did, which is another way of saying Ďfineí. It wonít win any awards for performance, handling or anything else for that matter, but itís thoroughly adequate in every single area.

Letís start with the engine, which is a 1.0-litre petrol motor thatís now the sole option in the Juke range. Thatís no great hardship, because it isnít bad at all. With 117hp at the disposal of your right foot, itís capable of adequate acceleration and Ė more importantly Ė it wonít drink too much unleaded. In its most frugal form, it will return the best part of 50mpg on a long run. However, our test car was by no means the most parsimonious model in the Juke range. In top-spec Tekna+ trim and with the seven-speed automatic gearbox on board, it manages around 44mpg on the official economy test.

But the impact on fuel economy is not the only reason to avoid the seven-speed automatic. It isnít a terrible gearbox in isolation, but it feels ill-matched with the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. Itís as though such a small engine, even with the benefit of turbocharging, just doesnít have the grunt to deal with a big, heavy automatic gearbox. All things considered, weíd stick with the manual.

Perhaps more troubling than the automatic gearbox, however, is the Jukeís ride and handling. Although we have to caveat our driving impressions with the fact our test car was on 19-inch alloy wheels, the ride was far from perfect. The Juke seemed to find enormous lumps even on relatively smooth roads, and it felt fidgety and unsettled on anything but a silky stretch of asphalt.

As with its predecessor, the Juke seems to be tuned for handling, rather than comfort, and that shows through in the carís relatively tight body control. Thereís also a decent amount of grip, and the car responds well to steering inputs Ė possibly helped by the low-profile sidewalls enveloping those 19-inch rims. Unfortunately, the Jukeís steering lets the side down, proving rather numb and vague when youíre driving quickly.

But then how many Juke buyers are going to choose the Nissan for its handling prowess? More important is the manoeuvrability and visibility in urban areas. On one front, the Juke scores highly, managing to feel light and nimble enough to navigate towns and cities with ease, but the lack of visibility at the rear is an issue. Admittedly, our test car came with a helpful 360-degree reversing camera and some parking sensors, but it still wasnít ideal in the hubbub of a bustling city centre. There, the small rear screen and thick roof pillars lead to some irritating blind spots and lots of craning your neck to check where other vehicles have gone.

Yet for all the Jukeís foibles, it does come with some clever technology to try and make driving that little bit easier. Our test car was fitted with Nissanís ProPilot technology, which combines the cruise control and lane-keeping assistance to effectively drive the car in a single motorway lane. The system is a long way from autonomous driving, and it canít do anything especially clever, such as change lane or make decisions, but it does act as a useful safety net to reduce driver workload. It provides a bit of peace of mind on long journeys, too, although drivers still have to be in control and have their hands on the wheel at all times. Obviously.

Verdict

The current Juke is, in many ways, a vast improvement on its predecessor. Not only has Nissan finally struck a balance between quirkiness and style, but the new model is better built and more pleasant to use. However, the firm ride and uninspiring handling make it difficult to recommend, while the weak engine-and-gearbox pairing in our test car did nothing to help its cause. With a manual gearbox, the Juke might be average, but the automatic transmission makes it wholly unappealing.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

2 2 2 2 2 Powertrain


James Fossdyke - 20 Jan 2022



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2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.

2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Juke Tekna+ 1.0 DIG-T 117. Image by Nissan.








 

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