In the 12-odd months since its late-2020 introduction, the reimagined second-generation Nissan Juke has helped Nissan’s wider model range transition out of darker ages and into a more contemporary, appealing and contemporary space.
There are some obvious things to like. Against its predecessor, the gen-two Juke is more stylish and more mature is look and fundamental appeal. The grown-up design is matched with more advanced CMF-B platform underpinnings and, to date, it’s proven to be a more spirited handler than the funky if one-dimensional first generation.
Then there’s execution. The new Juke is simply more solid and significant in feel and vibe. It’s more substantial and conspicuously more elaborate in material use, and some of the range’s colour combination choices are fun to behold.
But it needs to ply as much goodness as it can muster. Because after Nissan culled its non-SUV passenger car ranges 2017, the Juke became the price-leading entry point to the Nissan range, and it arrived demanding quite a bit more outlay than its forebear did.
For a good many buyers, the compact crossover aims to prove Nissan is moving upmarket. And in a good many areas, as assessed in reviews to date, it’s not quite there in the execution.
The variant with perhaps the toughest task is the flagship 2022 Nissan Juke Ti tested here. That’s because piling on features and polishing up the presentation only goes some way to masking shortcomings, particularly at the price point it’s pegged at and the ballooning expectations foisted upon the pint-sized SUV segment when it comes to slick tech and safety, to name two key areas.
The ultimate version of the Juke line-up, the 2022 Nissan Juke Ti, lists for $36,490 before on-roads, or $39,996 drive-away using a Sydney postcode. The Ti is the priciest of a five-variant range that kicks off at $27,990 for the ST, before climbing up through the ST+ ($30,740), the ST-L ($33,940) and the penultimate ST-L+ ($35,140).
It’s available in eight colours, two of which are no-cost. Metallic or pearl effect finishes, such as our tester’s Gun Metallic, want for an extra $595.
The Juke is no longer offered in all-wheel drive guise. Thus, its key front-driven range-topping rivals include the Ford Puma ST-Line ($35,890), Mazda CX-3 Akari LE FWD ($37,390), Renault Captur Intens ($35,790), Toyota Yaris Cross Urban FWD ($34,990) and Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Style ($32,800).
The Juke Ti’s price point also ropes in a slew of one-size-up small-segment SUVs, including a few turbocharged AWD prospects such as Hyundai Kona N Line and Kia Seltos Sport+, at roughly similar outlay.
Nissan Juke Ti highlights:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Automatic LED headlights
- LED fog lights and tail lights
- Paddle shifters
- 4.2-inch instrument cluster screen
- LED fog lights
- 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster display
- Adaptive cruise control
- Surround-view camera
- Ambient lighting
- Electric parking brake
- Leather-wrapped paddle shifter steering wheel
- Eight-speaker Bose premium sound system
- Quilted black leather upholstery with Alcantara
- Full black leather seating with Energy Orange highlights (optional)
- Alcantara OR Energy Orange leather trim on the dash, doors, front arm rest and knee pad
- Heated front seats
- Illuminated sill plates
- Tyre pressure monitoring
The Nissan Juke scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro NCAP testing conducted in 2019.
It received adult and child protection scores of 94 and 87 per cent respectively, with a vulnerable road user protection score of 81 per cent and a safety assist score of 71 per cent.
All Nissan Juke models come standard with:
- AEB with pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Forward collision warning
- Lane departure warning and braking (Intelligent Lane Intervention)
- Traffic sign recognition
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Front, front-side and curtain airbags
- High-beam assist
The Ti fits a surround camera system, including front- and kerb-view camera viewing. Airbags offer front side and curtain coverage.
In certain respects, the cabin musters up good impressions and in some areas the execution befits the Ti’s serious price point. It feels solid and robust, both in the materials used, which largely avoid much in the way of cheap and flimsy plastics, and in the general ambience.
There’s a strong sport-crossover vibe that seems keen to distance itself from typical SUV-isms and it tried hard to feels special and more than a little reminiscent of Nissan’s sports car stock. The design has a certain maturity lacking in, say, the cutesy key rival Toyota Yaris Cross.
All Juke variants get different dash treatments and the conspicuous suede-like Alcantara spread across the dash and door trims does the requisite trick.
This is the most subdued of two themes that can be opted for in the top-dog Ti – the other is a much bolder Energy Orange fit-out that swaps the suede look for a bold two-tone finish featuring leather/leatherette and it’s a welcome choice regardless of how many buyers actually choose whichever layout.
The sport bucket seats, with integrated Bose speakers in the headrest sides, are purposeful and nicely upmarket. Ditto the nice wheel.
There’s enough brightwork, switchgear richness and jewellery, including subtle orange-lit mood lighting, to make the cabin feel special enough in places. It’s a shame the seats are purely mechanical in adjustment with no way to tweak lumbar to taste.
The Juke’s take on interior styling is a bit old-school, be it the design of the switches and buttons, the look of the instrumentation or the presentation of the infotainment system. For a model around a year young, it looks and feels a generation older than some other crossovers and SUVs, notably those from Korea.
Of course, whether the pint-sized Nissan feels modern enough or not is a matter of personal taste.
The tech, too, isn’t quite daisy fresh, particularly the infotainment system’s navigation map display and the ordinary 360-degree camera feeds, which are grainy and distorted. It all works fine but lacks a bit of forward-thinking flash.
The eight-speaker Bose system (also fitted to the ST-L+) is part of the sweetener to stump up extra coin over the regular ST-L version and, well, it’s fine. We spent a while fiddling with sources and settings and its fairly bassy nature doesn’t really present the sort of clarity and fidelity of properly high-end systems.
The richness up front is mirrored largely in row two. While many compact-segment offerings go cheap in the rear accommodation, the Juke ensures all passengers feel like they’re travelling in the same class.
It’s also surprisingly roomy, with just enough headroom given the high seat bases, which offer smaller occupants decent enough visibility to the outside world, though the window line is high and glass area is quite small.
It’s a four-adult prospect at a stretch, which is a favourable enough outcome for anything certifiably compact in size. The drub, though, is the lack of rear air vents – the sole USB outlet isn’t much consolation for rear occupants faced with a long journey.
The large middle floor hump and seat contour leaves the rear middle position pretty much for emergency use only.
The boot, like row two, carves out decent enough space for the limited available real estate, offering a sizeable 422 litres – around twice that of Mazda CX-3 – in what’s more depth than length in luggage space.
It expands to handy 1305L with the rear seatbacks stowed, though you’ll be reaching for the tape measure before those overly ambitious trips to IKEA.
The Juke is powered by a direct-injected 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine outputting 84kW at 5250rpm and 180Nm at 2400rpm. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and drives the front wheels.
It’s a one-spec-fits-all powertrain that’s fitted right throughout the Juke range. It runs on a minimum 95 RON grade of premium unleaded fuel. Advertised consumption is rated at 5.8L/100km combined, with a 46-litre tank.
Suspension is strut front and cost-effective torsion beam at the rear. Before you get duped by the Intelligent Ride Control into thinking there’s adaptive damping, this feature merely makes subtle – and I mean very subtle – adjustments to throttle to braking control to “avoid pitching over bumps”.
The Juke takes the sporting promise of its exterior styling and interior vibe and runs with it on the road.
I certainly don’t remember its predecessor being this frisky, baiting you to grab its scruff through a succession of corners and rewarding with enthusiasm once you do. It’s no sports car, per se, nor does it drive like a compact SUV.
The low-slung seating and seemingly planted centre of gravity set the mood and there’s a nice degree of engagement that starts with the direct and evenly-measured steering and seeps down through its cooperative manners and a nice crisp edge to the chassis.
Carrying pace on the move, it’s quite a hoot – its sporty character underpinning almost every driving occasion.
Thing is, once you back off the suspension is simply set too firmly to comfortably embody the role most buyers will ask of it: a pleasant around-town runabout. The primary big-bump damping isn’t too bad and it doesn’t crash or jar over speed humps and the like, but the patter across small imperfections gets quite tiresome quite quickly.
While those 19-inch wheels certainly look the part, we can help thinking the smaller wheels on lower-grade variants might temper the terse ride where it needs it most.
The little three-pot engine is a cracker. In Normal mode, it’s responsive and progressive, plying more usable torque than you might reasonably expect. Hit Sport and it’s downright eager to march, complete with sold thrust accompanied by a neat triple-cylinder thrum.
Don’t be put off by the numeric capacity: it actually fits the Juke bill very nicely.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, on the other hand, just lets the team down. In its default setting, its upshifts are unkempt and lazy, never really marrying the engine’s best with the desired forward progress. Activate Sport, and it gets sharper without bringing improvement to smoothness and it tends to pin the engine around 3000rpm under light throttle, which is simply too enthusiastic for general driving.
Another shortcoming of the dual-clutch shifter is the creeping. Shift from drive to reverse, say, and without any throttle it’ll drift in the wrong direction until the clutch system decides to wake up.
You really have to watch the Juke’s tendency to roll towards anything it’s likely to hit. As we’ve reported previously, the Juke has already been treated to a rolling update with a gearbox software to cure some of its ills, apparently fixing examples built from late 2020. Still, the quibbles persist…
Refinement isn’t the Juke’s strong suit. It’s a little gruff on start-up and at idle. On the move, it’s prone to a bit of excessive road and wind noise. Nothing too excessive, but they’re noticeable.
The Juke range is covered by Nissan’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and includes five years of roadside assistance.
Service intervals are every 12 months and a rather generous 20,000kms, whichever comes first.
The first five intervals cost $321, $478, $538, $498 and $347. Nissan also offers pre-paid packages for three- ($1377), four- ($1835) and five-year ($2182) bundles.
It turns out the Juke Ti is an easy compact crossover to like – if you find its nuggety sportiness is the key attraction. If you’re the type to keep the Sport mode activated and drive it regularly with vigour, it fits its mould well.
It packs a great engine and a neat chassis, feels solid and substantial, and certainly arrives with a more mature spin. There’s certainly enough in its vibe and presentation to convince as a proper flagship version given the sort of the money this Ti version commands.
That said, it’s certainly not the nicest, most resolved or well-rounded small SUV or crossover out there. And it’s far from the last word when it comes to new-school ambience and techy window dressing.
For the goodness that it does bring, we can’t help thinking that saving a few bucks by dropping down to the middle of the range, to the ST-L, is money more shrewdly spent. Same engine, mostly the same vibe and driving experience, at a price that makes Juke’s particular compact crossover spin a bit more compelling as an overall proposition.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Nissan Juke