Test drive: Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 117 DCT N-Design: does boldness still pay off?

New Nissan JUKE hits the road in Barcelona

It’s been a year and a half since the second generation Nissan Juke hit the road but I hadn’t had the chance to try it yet. It still wears its distinctive style and atypical face but is now grown up and offer better accommodation… even though interior space is not its forte. However, it uses more modern underpinnings, as it is based on the Renault Clio V and the latest Sandero platform.

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Enginewise, the choice is easy as… there is just one lump on offer. The 1.0 litre 3-cylinder petrol offers 117 hp and is way more lazy than other much livelier 3 cylinders. To make things worse, the DCT gearbox fitted to our test model didn’t help to counteract the sluggish feelings but I’ll come back to that later. The car tested was a top of the range N-Design Enigma Black fitted with the Technology Pack and the Chic Black Interior Pack. In short, a great way to feel at home in a totally driver-oriented environment.

Oct. 7 - 2pm CET - New Nissan JUKE Dynamic 14

I like it

I have to admit I was deeply impressed by the interior and the way it looks. This feeling is reinforced by the Alcantara-covered dashboard, the leather/Alcantara seats and the Bose Personal Plus system (with speakers located in the backrests), all featured in the Interior Pack. Then… there is that special feeling, sitting in something different compared to many other cars  with very similar interiors. Plastics quality as well as fit and finish are rather good and the information provided by the various screens are clear and easy to understand.

New Nissan JUKE hits the road in Barcelona

Quite clever

The first generation interior was a real let-down and fortunately it’s been truly and thoroughly improved : the designers lengthened (+7.5 cm) and widened it (+3 cm) while the wheelbase  increased by a full 10 cm. This gives the rear passengers 6 cm more knee room and the boot capacity is now 422 litres, 20% more than the previous model. This is better, way much better, than its competitors such as the Peugeot 2008 (405 litres) or the Toyota C-HR (377 litres). Weighting 1,217 kg in the case of this fully- equipped version, the Juke is not among the class heavies.

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I don’t like it

I’m not thrilled with the Juke’s mechanical package. The engine (HR10 DDT in the Alliance’s internal naming system) is pretty lethargic to start with but coupled to this 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, it becomes anemic. You may say that a Toyota C-HR is not much more livelier and you would be pretty right… Claiming a 0 to 100 km/h time of 11″1 secs and a 180 km/h top speed is honest on the part of the Japanese manufacturer but its sporty look, with its big 19″ wheels and its dual paintjob probably made me dream!

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Why I buy it

Now pretty common on our streets, the Nissan Juke is going for a new lease of life. However,  we can legitimately wonder if offering just a single engine will be enough to ensure a renewed sale success. We are still waiting for a hybrid version to complement this 3 cylinder one… Nevertheless, the the Juke II is now more mature and that alone should delight its fans. They will appreciate its oddball character, now with improved abilities. They should be delighted by its increased loading capacity, now far from being ridiculous. Above all, comfort is much improved compared to the first iteration. The asking price remains one of the Juke’s main assets. The current model starts from € 22.070 and features LED headlights, manual aircon, power mirrors, cruise control, road sign recognition and a digital radio with USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. Finally, the handling is quite nippy, even though the lack of power makes that pretty much irrelevant.

New Nissan JUKE hits the road in Barcelona

Why I don’t buy it

The small 3-cylinder engine laziness is the Juke’s main flaw. The new dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t help matters either: it’s too linear, even when using the sterring wheel paddles. In fact, it’s low speed driveability that proves particularly tricky: the lack of progressivity reminding the worst last century auto gearboxes. Eventually, even though I have a heavy right foot, this engine was a heavy drinker, using around 8.5 l/100 km during our test… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

New Nissan JUKE hits the road in Barcelona

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