The second generation of Nissan’s baby crossover is long overdue, but can it still compete in the extremely congested sector that it invented?
On the road
On the road
The new Juke has been a long time coming, with Nissan stretching the life span of its pioneering baby crossover by around two years more than most manufacturers. That’s allowed others to steal some of the limelight, and some sales, although the Juke was still performing remarkably well as it entered the embers of its cycle.
But the new one is here now, with Nissan modernising but retaining the distinctive looks of its compact crossover, one of the key pillars of improvement for the new model.
Along with design, which the brand says is a key driver of around half of buying decisions, Nissan pinpoints agile performance and advanced technology as key strengths, as well as what it says is “changing a weakness to a strength” with moves to address the compromised rear passenger space and boot volume of the first-generation car.
1. The two-tone roof on the top-spec Tekna+ models looks good. It’s a shame it’s a costly option lower down the range of trims. All cars do get pearl black door mirror casings and a rear spoiler.
2. The luggage area – much improved in terms of space and functionality – looks and feels bigger than the numbers suggest it to be.
3. Nissan’s website is pretty dire at helping users work out what kit is offered with which trim.
The new model is 75mm longer, 35mm wider, 30mm taller and has a wheelbase 105mm longer than its predecessor, which markedly increases the rear space in particular, while the boot is up by 68 litres to land the car comfortably ahead of some rivals and within striking distance of the class best.
Engine-wise it’s a simple story, with just the one option available from launch. It’s a 117hp 1.0-litre petrol unit, offered with either six-speed manual or, for an additional £1400 and available on all bar the entry Visia trim, seven-speed automatic transmission. All cars are front-wheel drive. Nissan says there is “no requirement” from customers for a diesel in this small crossover class of car, claiming that a petrol engine, plus manual or automatic gearboxes, can cover the majority of buyer desires, helped by the claim that the new car is around 30% more efficient than the one it replaces.
The trim levels at least give a larger element of choice to the new Juke, with five choices plus the shorter-term Premiere Edition launch car at the top of the tree.
It all kicks off with Visia, which is the poor relation by some distance and there only for the price point rather than as a model anyone should buy; it has steel wheels rather than alloys and no touchscreen system. Still, all models at least get lane-departure warning and traffic sign-recognition safety systems, plus hill start assist. Moving up to Acenta adds 17-inch alloys, the 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear camera and Nissan’s Connected services, while the N-Connecta driven here gets heated seats, auto wipers, navigation, folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, climate control and rear privacy glass, along with several other comfort features such as the front armrest. From there, the range moves up to Tekna, which brings 19-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and uprated audio system, and Tekna+ which adds the cosmetic upgrades of Pearl Black roof, bumpers and side skirts. However, these last two levels seem a little extravagant when the N-Connecta has pretty much everything required by business drivers.
Nissan’s focus on the Juke’s driving experience reaps partial rewards, with the chassis feeling impressively composed and a hefty step on from the first Juke, but the engine is less impressive. It’s a little too lacklustre and doesn’t feel as quick as the figures suggest, requiring a thorough workout when significant progress is required. Rival models with similar power figures feel more potent under acceleration, although it’s perfectly adequate when under less duress. The steering is also a little too light for times when the car is pushed harder. The overall ride quality is good, with no complaints about the comfort levels, despite the improved driver enjoyment from the chassis development.
The focus on enhancing practicality is more successful, with much-improved levels of rear passenger space – rear kneeroom is up by 58mm and rear headroom by 11mm – and a boot that feels more useful than the numbers suggest, helped by the user-friendly split-level arrangement. It’s 20% up on the previous Juke at 422 litres, and is big enough for most of what will be thrown at the car.
In the front, there are a couple of minor usability complaints, such as the armrest not sliding forward to increase comfort, while the door bins are small and stowage space is only reasonable. It’s also worth noting that there is no front Isofix fitting, and the keyless entry system, fitted to N-Connecta trim and above, operates on only the front doors.
The cabin itself looks nice, with a good variation of materials and textures giving it a degree of character rather than some models’ dull black interior. The glovebox lid, door pockets and boot handle are all examples of easily found cheaper elements though.
The infotainment system doesn’t look the most cutting-edge, despite being described by the brand as the most advanced system ever fitted to a Nissan, and it is slow to react on occasion, leaving the driver unsure if they’ve hit their selection or not. It’s otherwise functional, has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, and is on all bar the entry trim.
Nissan says the Juke is the most connected car in its history; it includes in-car wifi, plus Juke Google Assistant compatibility, which will allow drivers to send various commands to the car, including satellite-navigation destinations, via verbal smartphone instructions. Nissan’s app also allows users to lock and unlock the car, locate the vehicle and receive alerts if it is, for example, being driven too fast.
As this magazine went to press, Nissan had not yet published the CO2 figures that will be applicable from next month when the switch to the WLTP method of officially testing car efficiency comes into effect. So, we’re still working off the old NEDC-correlated figures that put the Juke in the right area, but slightly behind the CCT100 Small Crossover of the Year Award-winning Citroen C3 Aircross and well off the new Ford Puma, which uses mild hybrid technology to get below 100g/km, significantly ahead of any of its rivals.
That gives the Ford a BiK tax advantage as well as lower fuel consumption.
Otherwise on a numbers point of view, the Juke sits competitively in all areas without leading any of them. Residual values, service, maintenance and repair costs, insurance, efficiency and overall cost per mile are all close to the best in class, so it doesn’t trail significantly in any area, but neither does it lead. Which when you’ve got a huge reputation from the success of the first-generation Juke is probably just fine, because there’s no reason for potential buyers to discount the baby Nissan crossover from a shortlist. After that, it comes down to the customers’ opinions and personal preferences as to whether the Juke gets the nod over the latest breed of capable and increasingly appealing rivals in this sector of the market, a sector that is predicted to enjoy considerable volume growth for some time still to come.
The Juke was the second Nissan in quick succession to launch a whole new sector of the market, with the model establishing a compact crossover, or B-SUV, segment when it launched in late 2010.
The Juke was based on the Qazana concept car (pictured) revealed 12 months earlier, and the crossover concept was described as a car that “reinvents small five-door cars”, with Nissan accurately predicting that its new model would, when the production car arrived, rewrite the rule book in the same way its bigger brother Qashqai had already done in creating the crossover segment.
When the first Juke was unveiled, Nissan said it would “inject some much-needed dynamism into the small car segment, offering European car buyers an alternative to the traditional hatchback”.
It worked, with the Juke leading the way while other manufacturers scrabbled to grab a slice of this untapped demand, and over 1.5m Jukes were registered worldwide during the nine-year lifespan of the first car. But nine years is a long time, and the Juke was showing its age next to cars such as the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008, both launched well after the Juke but already with Mk2 models coming through.
What they said
What They Said
“The pioneering Juke was an instant hit when it was first unveiled a decade ago and 1.5 million were sold around the world."
“This next generation model builds on that success, offering distinctive style, great quality and the very latest in vehicle technology, together with a highly efficient engine and extremely low running costs."
“We’re confident that the new Juke will be a success and we’re seeing broad appeal, with particularly strong demand in the salary-sacrifice, public sector and SME marketplaces.”
Peter McDonald, head of fleet, Nissan GB
Need to know
Three things we like...
The new nose is a cleaner design than the predecessor
The split boot arrangement works well and give the luggage area real depth
The cabin has plenty of different surfaces, shapes and textures
...And one we don't
Flicking the screen wash stalk can result in wash but no wipe, and brief reduced visibility
The Juke handles tidily but could do with more punch from a 117hp engine that needs working hard.
Not quite up with the best rivals but close enough to not be a serious complaint. WLTP emissions figures are not yet available from Nissan.
Boot and passenger space were key focuses with the new car and it shows, solving major drawbacks of the first-generation model.
N-Connecta, the middle of the five trim levels, has everything company drivers would look for, although lower trims are missing plenty of niceties.
A useful update at the front, with the Juke now sporting a smooth and modern look. The rear is less evolved and retains the Juke style.
Comfort and refinement 8/10
No complaints on either score, unless rapid acceleration is required. Then having to work the engine hard leads to aural confirmation of its efforts.
The design is nice, while quality and variety of material are generally good, but with a few cheaper bits.
It’s all functional enough, but Nissan’s system doesn’t look the most cutting-edge Good connectivity is a plus though.
Whole life costs 8/10
The Juke places well across the board in costs terms, not leading in any area but competitive in all.
CCT opinion 8/10
A successful regeneration of the pioneering and big-selling small crossover. Improvements where they were needed and the redesign doesn’t lose the Juke’s character.
Nissan urgently needed a new Juke, given the activity in the sector, and the new car does everything it needs to without leaping forward against the competition.