Car review: Nissan Juke is back bigger and better

Steve Berry takes a look at the Nissan Juke N-Connecta

What is it?

It’s the new version of the upside-down faced SUV that kick-started the whole SUV craze by selling way, way better than it should’ve done, considering the visage.

Has the kerb appeal improved?

Yes, it has – but it remains instantly recognisable as a Juke. Thankfully, the bonnet-mounted googley-eyed look has given way to a more conventional and much sleeker front end that features Y-shaped LED lights that look great. You could confidently pick up your date in this newer Juke, rather than have to park around the corner and then suggest catching a bus to the restaurant.

What’s available?

Plenty of trim levels – six in all – but just one engine choice mated to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 7-speed DCT.

Worry not though, as the 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine is more than enough for the small/medium sized SUV. It puts out 114PS and is capable of taking the Juke from 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds. All Jukes are front-wheel-drive only, there is no AWD option.

Prices start at just £18,595 for the Visia and rise to £25,095 for the Tekna+

I’ve been driving the mid-range N-Connecta model fitted with a 7-speed DCT which comes in at £23,695 – about £1,500 more than the 6-speed manual version.

What’s the kit like?

You get a lot for your money, even on entry-level models, but the N-Connecta model may be the sweet-spot when it comes to value as it gets smarter 17in alloys, Nissan Connect Navigation with TomTom traffic, 6-speakers, instead of 4, a larger, 7in TFT screen between the main dials, auto climate control, Intelligent Key, Start/Stop push button and electric hand brake with Auto Hold Function.

There are front and rear parking sensors as well as a rear-view camera, three drive modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. The 8in touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard on all but the base model.

Safety highlights include Traffic sign recognition, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Hill Start Assist.

If you really want all the toys – or you have regular motorway commutes – you could go for the ProPilot Pack (£1,300 and DCT only) that provides adaptive cruise control and Traffic Jam Pilot among other goodies.

The Inside Story

The new Nissan Juke isn’t just prettier on the outside though – inside has also seen much improvement and I’m pleased to say the steering wheel is now fully adjustable and not just for height like it was in the previous model.

So, getting the ideal driving position is no longer a problem and the ride-height of the Juke helps with visibility too as it feels like a “proper” SUV – unlike some rivals whose ride-height appears to be not much more than a standard hatchback.

Rear visibility is only so-so, thanks to the narrow window and thick rear pillars – so that rear-facing camera comes in handy when manoeuvring.

Materials, fit and finish are all very good – the boys and girls at Sunderland really know how to put a vehicle together and long may that continue.

The new infotainment screen is well placed, high up on the central dash with three very “Mercedes-like” circular vents at its base. The screen is easy to use with bright, crisp images, two traditional rotary dials and a bank of soft-touch buttons means distractions are kept to a minimum whenever you wish to adjust something.

Climate has its own bank of easy-to-use controls below the vents – a godsend when on the move.

Space is also much improved in this new Nissan Juke with an extra 5.8cm of knee-room for rear passengers and a 20% increase in boot space over the older model – giving you 422 litres, or a whopping 1,305 litres with the rear seats folded.

On the Go

The new Nissan Juke isn’t what you’d call a “driver’s car” but then again most of them will be used as city runabouts – shorter commutes, shopping and school-runs – so that 1.0-litre petrol engine will be at home and perfectly adequate with decent mpg in the high 40s.

The 17in wheels provide enough comfort over our pock-marked roads but I expect the 19s on the range-topping models may get a bit thumpy.

If you want to take the Juke on longer journeys that involve some motorway driving then you’ll find the driver-aids available make for a comfortable, less-stressful ride. There is some wind-noise from around the wing-mirrors and noise suppression from the tyres could be better, but there’s nothing that’s a deal-breaker.

The engine does get a little vocal at higher-revs but cruising at motorway speeds is a relaxing affair and I didn’t have any problems keeping up with and overtaking traffic.

For a high-riding small SUV you’ll find the new Juke doesn’t sway around as much as you might expect. Body-roll is well-controlled – unless you really push the Juke on twisty A-roads where the lack of steering-feel will encourage you to slow down well before motion-sickness does.

The DCT gearbox makes for an effortless drive and I didn’t find it whiney at all – like it can be in some rivals.

Conclusion

‘Much-improved’ is the main conclusion when it comes to the new Nissan Juke. It’s slightly bigger than the last model and rear passengers benefit the most – because they needed to – although the front cockpit also feels more airy and better focused.

The sharper lines are much more appealing than what has gone before and this next-generation Juke actually looks good from any angle. On-board tech is bang up-to-date and generous – even on entry-level models. There are sharper-driving small SUVs around but not many that offer the character and value of the Juke.

RATING: ****

AT A GLANCE:  Nissan Juke N-Connecta
OTR Price: £23,695
Engine: 1.0 turbo petrol
Power: 115 bhp
Transmission: 7-speed DCT Automatic
0-60mph: 10.7 secs
Top Speed: 112 mph
Combined Economy: 46.3 mpg
C02: 110 g/km

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