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2014 Nissan Juke ST CVT Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Looks like nothing else on the road; tight turning circle, spacious up front.
What's Not
Fidgety ride, some interior gaps, needs a little more power.
X-Factor
Its 'out there' styling: the most attention-grabbing small SUV by far.
Tony O'Kane | Jan, 31 2014 | 5 Comments

2014 NISSAN JUKE REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $24,390
Engine/trans: 86kW/158Nm 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy: (listed) 6.0 l/100km | (tested) 6.8 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Let’s say you’re the type who likes to stand apart. Mainstream choices aren’t for you, and that applies to the car you choose to drive.

But you still have some rigid requirements when it comes to your wheels. A tallish seating position is a must, and so is an automatic transmission.

Ok, lock in that criteria and there's now a bit of choice out there "in quirky land". Cars like the Kia Soul, Fiat Panda and Toyota Rukus for instance.

And now there's the Nissan Juke.

Launched late last year into the burgeoning small SUV segment, the Juke takes the chassis of the Nissan Micra, jacks it up a few inches and adds some bulging bodywork.

It’s eye-catching - and eye-bulging - to say the least, and we’re betting more than a few will find it an intriguing alternative buy in the low-to-mid $20k bracket.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Cloth upholstery in ST grade
  • Bluetooth audio and phone integration, USB audio input, 4-speaker stereo system,
  • Cruise control
  • Steering-wheel mounted controls

The Juke’s interior is pretty cool too look at, though ergonomically it’s not quite ideal. The ventilation/drive mode display is set very low on the centre stack and the steering column doesn’t adjust for reach.

Quality could be better, too. Dashboard misalignment with the A-pillars is a common issue among all Jukes we’ve driven, and the plastic binnacle atop the instruments doesn’t match up with the plastic used for the rest of the dashboard.

The cloth upholstery feels good though, and so does the chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The driving position is tall and upright, which affords a good view of the road.

Rear vision isn’t all that great however thanks to a tiny rear window, although the wing mirrors are large enough to minimise the Juke’s blind spot.

Your back seat passengers won't be as happy though.

Headroom is very tight, and legroom isn’t abundant either. Don’t even think about trying to cram three adults back there.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 86kW/158Nm 1.6 litre 4cyl petrol
  • Five-speed manual standard, optional CVT automatic.
  • MacPherson strut front suspension, multi-link rear.
  • Disc brakes all-round

Just 86kW of power and 158Nm of torque is not much to work with. The Juke ST’s 1.6 litre atmo inline four isn’t anything like the surprisingly lively turbo 1.6 in the ST-S and Ti-S.

It’s merely adequate for urban driving, and overtaking on the highway requires a fair amount of forward planning.

The CVT transmission helps though. It’s pretty well-sorted as far as CVTs go, and does a decent job of keeping the engine on the boil.

Ride quality is a tad brittle however on the standard 17-inch wheels.

It’s a trait we noticed when we reviewed the turbocharged Juke Ti-S. While it made that car feel sportier, the much less-powerful Juke ST just feels more uncomfortable than it should be.

On the plus side, the Juke’s compact dimensions make it a great fit for those with a city-centric lifestyle.

Its 10.5 metre turning circle is tight, it’s small enough to fit in practically any parking spot and the tall seating position means it’s not such a struggle to see through traffic.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 33.03 out of 37 possible points.

Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABD, EBD and brake assist are all standard. Passengers are protected by three-point seatbelts and a suite of six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain).

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The quirkiness of the Juke ST is the source of much of its appeal. The fact that it is so different from anything else gives it a personality all its own.

Is it different for the sake of being different? Maybe, but if you see things that way just buy yourself a Micra. The Juke is clearly intended for buyers who value the unconventional.

It’s a 'statement' car; it makes a virtue of its unusual bulges, split-personality front and tucked-in rear.

But individuality comes at a price.

The Juke ST is expensive for what it offers. It's not especially quick, it's rather small on the inside and not exactly dripping with luxury features.

That said, this 2WD ST model is not without its strengths - especially as an urban runabout - and it absolutely stands apart from 'the hatchback crowd'. To some, that will count for a lot.

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • Juke ST 2WD manual - $21,990
  • Juke ST 2WD auto - $24,390
  • Juke ST-S 2WD manual - $28,390
  • Juke Ti-S AWD auto - $32,190

 
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