DOES JUKE NUKE ‘EM?

NISSAN JUKE

ANDY ENRIGHT

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

F IRST UP, some facts. This second generation Juke replaces a predecessor that had been in the market since 2010, albeit facelifted in 2018. The latest car is bigger in every key dimension, with more than 100mm grafted into its wheelbase. For our market there’s one basic set-up: a 999cc three-cylinder turbo petrol driving the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch.

All the oily bits being common across the range, the domestic line-up consists solely of trim options. None of the variants wear model identifying badges on their rear ends, so you’ll identify the entry-level ST and slightly better equipped ST+ by their 17-inch alloys.

Step up to the mid-range ST-L, which Nissan expects to account for fully half of all Juke registrations, and you get 19in rims, while the top-spec Ti also rides on 19s but is fitted with a sharkfin antenna on the roof. Peer through the front window of the Ti and you’ll also spot the surround-sound Bose speakers incorporated into the front seat headrests.

Prices start at $27,990 for the ST, rising to $30,740 for the ST+, which packages in sat-nav, DAB radio, heated front seats, front parking sensors and a few other toys. Most will be tempted by the $33,490 ST-L, which features better seats and a bucketload more tech including adaptive cruise, climate control, selectable drive modes and an around-view camera system. From there it’s a $3K step to the flagship Ti which features the clever Bose stereo and a more richly finished interior amongst other refinements.

The ride on the ST-L and Ti models is firmish, with excellent body control. These models feature the drive mode switch which, when set to Sport, gives a little more heft to the steering and sharpens the response of the throttle map and gearbox. This addition is key because in the normal drive mode (the only setting on the ST and ST-L models) the transmission logic can be a little dimwitted, which lets the engine labour on major roads.

Although 84kW sounds puny, you get the full serving of turbocharged torque (180Nm) from just 2400rpm so the Juke feels sprightly around town. It suffers from wind noise around the door mirrors at speed, but it’s a fun thing to punt into corners. Go too hard and there’s a zealous stability control system that will cut power sharply.

The cabin is well-sized, with stacks of headroom for taller drivers. The manually height-adjustable seats can be dropped very low. The front chairs in the ST-L and Ti are massive though, which impinge a little on the Juke’s rear legroom gains over its predecessor. The ST and ST+ grades actually feature better rear knee-room as a result. There’s a hefty 422-litre boot although the loading aperture is smallish. The Juke comes as standard with a space-saver spare.

Interior styling and finish is a marked step up from the previous generation model and most would agree that the exterior styling is no longer so wilfully wacky. It’ll appeal to a broader cross-section of the buying public as a result. But the old Juke was on sale for a very long time and the market moved on at a pace.

Whether the new Juke – as improved as it is – can level with the likes of the Volkswagen T-Cross and Ford Puma is another matter entirely. For the time being, colour us impressed.

ANDY ENRIGHT

Model Nissan Juke Ti

Engine 999cc 3cyl, dohc, 12v, turbo 

Max power 85kW @ 5250

Max torque 180Nm @ 2400rpm 

Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch

Weight 1274kg 

0-100km/h 10.4sec (claimed)

Economy 5.8L/100km

Price $36,490

On sale Now

PLUS

Space; cleaner styling; strong equipment levels; body control

MINUS

No AWD option; can get expensive for a 1.0 hatch; wind noise

The Rival

VOLKSWAGEN T-CROSS 85TSI STYLE $30,990

The T-Cross stacks up very closely to the $30,740 Juke ST+. The threepot 1.0-litre engines look virtually identical on paper, and both feature 7-speed dual-clutch ’boxes. The T-Cross gets adaptive cruise and a clever sliding rear bench that gives it an edge in ultimate load-lugging abilities. Were Nissan able to offer the ST-L for $30K, we’d favour the Nissan. As it stands, Germany might just edge this one.