Is the Nissan Juke the most distinctive car on our roads? Quite possibly. Nothing else looked like it when it appeared in 2010, and nothing does today. Well, apart from the 2019 Mk2 Juke, which toned things down a bit - but it’s still pretty in yer face.
Those ‘nostrils’ in the bumper are the headlights, while the ‘headlights’ next to the bonnet are the side lights and indicators. Bulbous wheel arches with cladding, a raised ride height and boomerang taillights complete the Juke’s distinctive looks. Its best angle, arguably, is from the side, where its sloping roof makes the Juke look like it’s ready to leap into action.
Is the Nissan Juke the most distinctive car on our roads?
What’s it like to drive?
The Juke is actually a very easy and friendly car to drive, with light steering and a good view of the traffic ahead and to the side. Rear visibility isn’t so good, which is why parking sensors are so useful. A firm ride means the Juke’s body doesn’t lean much round bends, which helps to inspire confidence on twisty country roads.
Most cars come with turbocharged 1.2 and 1.6-litre petrol engines which offer spritely – and in 1.6 Nismo guise, hot – performance. There’s also a slower, non-turbo, 1.6. There’s just one diesel on the Mk1 Juke: a 1.5 dCi. Early versions of the Mk2 Juke get just one engine: a 1.0-litre turbo petrol.
The Juke is actually a very easy and friendly car to drive.
Compared to the otherworldly exterior, the Mk1 Juke’s interior can feel a little underwhelming because it’s so, well, normal. That’s good, as it means all the controls are easy to find. The centre console on some models has a multimedia touchscreen with another screen beneath it for ventilation. The driver’s instruments sit in their own pods. The newer Juke gets a touchscreen mounted high on the dashboard and the option of digital instruments for the driver.
As standard on the original car’s Visia trim, you get air-con, sports seats and six airbags – pretty good going for entry-level models. Acenta has Bluetooth, a USB port and climate control, and Tekna gets the touchscreen with sat-nav and a better audio system, a reversing camera and leather upholstery. N-Connecta adds a DAB radio. The newer Juke gets air-con, cruise control and DAB as standard, with higher trims adding heated front seats, climate control and more.
It’s fairly easy to find a comfortable driving position in the Mk1 Juke, although the steering wheel adjusts only for height, not reach and rear visibility isn’t the best for parking because the pillars are thick. This is where parking sensors or the reversing camera available on some cars can help. The Renault Captur is a bit better in this regard.
There’s enough space in the original Juke’s front seats, but headroom for rear occupants is a little tight. Again, the newer Juke is more spacious in the rear seats.
Practicality isn’t the original Juke’s strongest forte. You get a pair of cupholders for front-seat occupants. The glovebox, however, can’t take much and the door bins are pretty narrow, so travel light or stick everything in the boot.
Speaking of which, cargo capacity is a distinctly average 354 litres on front-wheel-drive Jukes (less on 4WD versions). You’ll get your holiday bags in here, but not if you’re going camping for a week. At least the rear seatbacks are split 60/40 and fold flat to yield a total more acceptable volume of 1189 litres (422/1088 litres in the newer Juke).
Most models (both Mk1 and Mk2) have an adjustable-height boot floor that can be raised to give you a flat loading space with the seats down, which boosts practicality and makes loading larger objects easier.
Running costs and reliability
If fuel economy is your priority, go for the diesel engine, which can give you around 60 mpg. It’s downhill from there, with the 1.6 petrol giving you economy in the high 30s at best – and that’ll be when it’s paired with the CVT automatic gearbox (most cars available from cinch have a manual gearbox).
The 1.2 petrol tends to return figures in the high 40s, although if you work it hard that’ll drop into the 30s.
What we love
We love how Nissan took a huge gamble with the Juke’s styling – it paid off big time because the Japanese firm not only sold cars by the boat load-it also spurred other car makers into making lots of rival small SUVs. The Juke is perfect for new drivers, couples and young families who aren’t too fussed about the boot’s average capacity.
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Town and country drivers
The Nissan Juke is for those who love the idea of owning a conventional SUV without the hassle of cramming into a parking space – its relatively compact dimensions make that job easy. Add a raised driving position that gives you a good view of the road and you can see why it’s been such a hit.
This review was