2014 NISSAN JUKE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $32,190 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 140kW/240Nm 1.6 turbo petrol 4cyl | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.4 l/100km | tested: 7.9 l/100km
The Nissan Juke is an interesting car for a number of reasons. First, there’s its looks.
Whatever you think of the out-there styling, it’s definitely a head-turner.
Secondly, there’s the argument that it’s a wholly unique car that has - depending upon how you view it - either a wealth of competitors, or none whatsoever.
For here in the Juke Ti-S is a micro SUV with less interior space than a Micra for almost double the cost.
And, under the bonnet is the same turbocharged 1.6 litre engine as the Pulsar SSS yet twice the driven wheels.
It’s also rather expensive - the Juke Ti tested here is priced at $32,190 before on-roads.
Too pricey, too oddball? Give it a miss then? Well, actually don’t.
It’s hard to pin down why we enjoyed the Juke Ti so much, but there’s something about it that we find quite endearing. Read on.
Quality: Quality is not the Juke’s strong point.
The dash isn’t flush with the A-pillar where both intersect the windscreen, there’s lots of scratch-prone painted plastics and a few of the other cabin plastics look poorly finished.
The design is funky and fresh, but it’s not built at the level we’d expect of a $30k+ car - let alone one that comes out of the same UK plant as the Dualis.
While this interior quality might be acceptable for the $21,990 Juke ST, it does no favours for the $32,190 Juke Ti-S.
Comfort: Comfort is actually pretty good for those in the front seats. The seating position is upright, but there’s stacks of headroom up front and a good view of the road ahead.
Things aren’t so rosy in the back. There’s a shortage of headroom thanks to the tapered roofline, and though legroom is acceptable for a car with such a compact footprint, it’s far from roomy.
Other complaints include seat squabs that don’t offer enough under-thigh support and a steering wheel that adjusts for rake only, not reach.
Equipment: To help justify that sticker price, Nissan has jammed quite a number of features into the range-topping Juke Ti-S.
There’s the normal stuff like cruise control, Bluetooth phone integration, power windows and power mirrors, along with luxuries like rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, a push button starter and keyless entry.
The seats have leather accents and are heated up front, while sat-nav, a 5-inch touchscreen and a reversing camera are also standard for the Ti-S.
There’s a USB input for external music devices, and Bluetooth audio streaming as well.
Storage: No two ways about it: the Juke’s boot is small. Hatchbacks are normally known for their utility, but, as you may have noticed, the Juke is no ordinary hatch.
Still, there’s 251 litres of space with the 60/40 split rear seats in place, and that’s enough for a couple of overnight bags. Larger prams would prove a very tight squeeze however.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: While the interior is lacklustre, the Juke makes up for it in this section. It’s F-U-N to drive, even though it’s not exactly a rocket.
Under the bonnet lies the same 140kW/240Nm 1.6 litre turbo four-pot from the Pulsar SSS, and it feels far more lively in the Juke than it does in the bigger Pulsar.
In top-spec Ti-S grade, the turbo four is hooked up to a CVT automatic gearbox and a switchable AWD drivetrain. There’s no manual available for the AWD hardware, but that’s not such a huge deal given how well-sorted the Juke’s CVT is.
Yes, it’s not the sportiest automatic around, but it does a decent job of keeping the engine in the meat of its (impressively wide) torque band without excessive hunting.
Should you feel the need to pretend you’ve got a manual though, there’s a plus/minus shift plane on the gear lever.
But stick it in D, press the Sport button on the lower multi-function display, stomp the accelerator and the little Juke will rear up eagerly and smoothly power away from standstill.
It’s quick enough, and cheeky enough, to surprise fellow road users.
Refinement: There’s not a lot of sound insulation in the Juke. How do we know? Because the engine and road noise at 100km/h is noticeably louder than others in this segment.
It’s not deafening, but it does become grating unless you drown it out with the stereo. The coarse drone of the CVT doesn’t help the Juke Ti-S’s cabin sonics either.
Ride and Handling: Being a short wheelbase car with quite a firmly-damped suspension, you do feel a lot more pitch movements in the Juke when accelerating and braking.
The firmness itself also takes some getting used to, but it’s not so hard-edged to be uncomfortable.
Rather, the damping strikes the right chord between comfort and roadholding.
Moreover, it feels sporty. Sportier in fact than the Pulsar SSS (and that’s a real indictment on the Pulsar).
The Juke Ti is a nimble little thing, and you can really heave it into a turn.
But while the dampers are firm, the springs feel relatively soft. Once you’re past fairly crisp initial turn-in the body slowly leans away from the turn.
But, fortunately, this body roll doesn’t have much of a negative effect on handling.
The all-wheel drive system can be switched between 2WD, 4WD-lock and an intermediate mode that figures out the appropriate front/rear torque split on its own.
We fiddled with all three, but thanks to bone-dry weather during our time with the Juke it was hard to detect much of a dynamic difference between them.
Braking: No complaints with the brakes, though, being ralatively light, the brakes aren’t under much duress. Pedal feel is a little doughy but it pulls up ok.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 33.03 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control, switchable AWD. Dual front, front side and curtain airbags are standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years or 100,000km
Service costs: Under the myNissan servicing scheme, service prices are fixed for the first six years or 120,000km.
Turbo Juke variants predictably cost more to maintain than the naturally-aspirated ST model, with the Juke Ti-S costing just over $252 for a typical ‘A’ service. More involved services in the schedule can cost up to $597.
HOW IT COMPARES
Like we said, it’s hard to find another vehicle that’s a line-ball competitor for the very unique Juke. With that in mind, here’s a few that compete with the Juke Ti-S in some areas but not others - hence the absence of a value-for-money rating.
Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo automatic ($35,290) - A hotter hatch than the Juke Ti-S, but you pay more for the Veloster’s 150kW/265kW 1.6 turbo powertrain and sharper dynamics.
The three-door configuration is an interesting one, and the Veloster’s distinctive styling means it’ll turn nearly as many heads as the Juke.
It’s harder to see out of though (it doesn't have the Juke's SUV-like driving position). (see Veloster reviews)
Holden Cruze SRi-V automatic ($28,690) - The Cruze SRi-V’s 132kW/230Nm turbo 1.6 is a little shy of the Juke’s outputs, but the Cruze makes up for it with a performance-optimised automatic transmission and (see Cruze reviews)
Kia Soul+ CRDi ($29,990) - It’s pretty far from the Juke Ti-S’s performance thanks to its 94kW 1.6 turbodiesel, but if the Juke’s distinctive style interests you more than its turbo power, then the eye-catching Soul might be worth a look too.
Its boxy, upright cabin is roomier than the Jukes, and with 260Nm of torque it’s a more relaxed and frugal car to drive around town. (see Soul reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
A hatchback that thinks it's an SUV? A Pulsar SSS in fancy dress? It’s not easy to get a bead on what the Juke is, but we definitely know what it’s not.
It is not an SUV. It is not practical. And it's not cheap, especially for something so small. Yet we love it all the same.
It’s the kind of funky, frivolous machine that brings some sparkle to Nissan’s showroom floors, and it handily fills the gap between the awfully pragmatic Pulsars and Pathfinders and the seriously fun 370Z and GT-R.
Does it make sense? It doesn’t have to.
In turbo-charged form it will bring a smile everytime you slide behind the wheel. What else is important?
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