I DON’T KNOW about you, but I tend to do something fairly irrational whenever I get into a front-wheel-drive SUV. Because they have a modicum of extra ride height, I always feel compelled to drive them off road. I know, I know, this really needs to be filed under ‘Unsmart Things Done’ but there it is. The Juke is no exception.
There’s a track near my house that, for a short 100-metre pitch, climbs at a genuinely unnerving gradient. It has recently been regraded with fresh gravel, so on the face of it, the Juke’s odds of climbing it looked about on par with Clive Palmer’s chances of conquering Mount Midoriyama.
Undeterred, I vowed to get a good run at it and just bully the Juke up, but as I rounded the preceding corner with some verve, a dog walker forced me to jump on the picks. It was then a case of scrambling up at little more than walking pace.
The traction control light started strobing like crazy as the front rubber scrabbled for purchase. At one point, the throttle pedal went ‘dead’, the Juke deciding that there was zero grip available at that instant. I started steering the car gently from left to right as I’d seen a Land Rover instructor do. This only had the effect of pebble-dashing the dog walker, who had rather unwisely decided to watch this ungainly endeavour.
Against all odds, however, the combination of doggedly determined traction control, the 225/45 R19 Hankook Ventus front boots and a ground clearance of 172mm (compared to the 137mm of a Toyota C-HR or the 155mm of a Mazda CX-3) saw the Juke crest the bumpy rise. Curiosity sated, I don’t think I’ll make this part of my normal test route for the little Nissan. I expected to cop a bit of a spray in return from the dog walker but, to my relief, he was doubled up with laughter at my dubious route selection.
Otherwise, I’m still slightly shocked at how much I like this Juke Ti. Yes, there are some idiosyncrasies to overcome, such as the jerky cold-start process which can see it kangaroo truculently for the first 100m in the morning or the long-winded series of button-presses (thumb the starter, wait for the infotainment to boot up, OK the touch screen, switch into Sport, and kill the idle-stop) which is a twohanded affair as none of these buttons are anywhere proximate to each other, but these are very minor grumbles.
Even when there have been some more ostensibly exotic vehicles parked in the garage, the Juke still gets a run. Out on the road, the combination of just enough low-end turbo torque, strong body control, decent ride quality and enjoyable steering weighting is still more than enough to paint a big grin on my face. The tiny engine has also yet to become tiresome. Onwards and upwards, then.
NISSAN JUKE TI
Price as tested: $37,219
This month: 1069km @ 6.9/100km