With an eye-catching exterior and compact dimensions, the Nissan Juke is designed to play up the sport in SUV.
The first Juke was a bit of a pioneer, with a distinctive design and driver-focused (not practicality-minded) interior that inspired countless compact competitors.
That means the 2021 model faces some seriously stiff competition.
Do its bold look and sporty billing ring true in the real world, or are they bells and whistles to distract from what’s an otherwise conventional crossover.
Our test car was the range-topping Ti priced at $36,490 before on-road costs, although Nissan is advertising the car from $38,990 drive-away on its Australian website.
Pricing starts at a $27,990 before on-road costs for the entry-level Juke ST.
Despite having less power than all of those cars, the Ti is at the top end of the price bracket.
The range-topping Ti separates itself from lower models with:
- 19-inch Akari alloy wheels
- Eight-speaker Bose Personal Plus audio
- Privacy glass
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Illuminated sill plates
Our tester was also fitted with the Energy Orange option package, which brings a full leather interior with eye-popping orange highlights rather than the standard black leather and Alcantara trim.
Gone is the rather demure, all-black finish, replaced with a more eye-catching black-and-orange contrast trim.
The kit in the Ti comes atop standard equipment from lower models, including:
- 8.0-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- 360-degree camera system with Moving Object Detection
- Automatic LED headlights
- Satellite navigation
- Heated front seats
- Front parking sensors
- 7.0-inch driver’s information display
- Adaptive cruise control
- Surround-view camera
- Ambient lighting
- Electric parking brake
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
The Nissan Juke was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating in June 2020.
It scored 94 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 8 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 71 per cent for safety assist.
It has six airbags in total: dual front and curtain airbags are standard, as well as head-protecting curtain airbags for front and rear.
Standard active safety equipment includes:
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Forward collision warning
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane departure warning
- Traffic sign recognition
- 360-degree camera system (ST-L up)
- Adaptive cruise control (ST-L up)
It sure is bright. Having an Energy Orange interior does brighten up the whole vibe, that’s for sure.
This is only available in the range-topping Ti. Standard is black, which is a lot classier. Some will love the orange, but it’s going to be polarising.
Nissan did a good job on the interior styling in the Juke, with leather-appointed seats and soft-touch trim all around the cabin to compliment the hard plastic surfaces on areas like the door tops.
Having a leather flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters also gives a sporty feel to the car.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen display is sharp, and functions as promised. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which is redeeming because the Nissan software is basic.
The vehicle also has a surround-view camera, and a grainy reverse camera. It has a pixelated picture that doesn’t feel up to scratch in 2021.
The Nissan Juke being a small, style-focused SUV, space isn’t generous. It’s adequate, though, compared to what’s on offer in rivals.
The space in the rear is tight and is fine for children, but it’s not ideal for a larger adult.
Cargo space with the second row of seats up is 422 litres, but the loading lip is high and the floor low, which may make it hard to lift in heavy items.
Having the option to lay the second row down increases capacity to 1305L.
Across all five vehicles in the range, power comes from a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which puts out 84kW at 5250rpm and 180Nm at 2400rpm.
The Juke is front-wheel drive, and in Australia it’s only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The Juke looks sporty, but the drive isn’t quite there to back it up.
Sure, the engine is turbocharged for extra kick down low, but the Juke doesn’t set your pulse racing. Then again, none of the Juke’s rivals will get you overly fired up.
The transmission lets the car down. Put your foot down and it initially feels like nothing is happening, give it a moment and it hooks up a bit sharply as the DCT hooks up and the turbo boost kicks in.
Reverse gear was also less than impressive; the car almost felt like it wanted to stall when trying to reverse, which made us feel less confident when backing out of tight spaces.
Nissan has recently confirmed a software update for the transmission in the Juke, designed to smooth out its low-speed hesitancy.
The steering is nice and weighty, which lends you confidence at higher speeds, although you don’t need to have massive biceps at low speed.
The suspension is relatively firm which is great for cornering and gave us an overall feeling of being glued to the road, but the small price you pay for that confidence is you’re more aware of every lump and bump on the road.
Over-the-shoulder visibility is limited by the sloping roofline, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re getting out of a car with more upright windows and better vision.
With a claimed consumption of 6.0L/100km (during our test we saw 6.8L/100km), running the Juke isn’t that much of a hit to the pocket – provided you can stump for 95RON unleaded. The Juke has a 46-litre fuel tank.
Nissan offers six years of capped-price servicing and a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assist.
The Juke promises plenty based on its looks, but its drive doesn’t always deliver.
We can live with the limited space, given most of its rivals are similarly compact, but the jerky transmission and so-so reversing camera are black marks against it.
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