Nissan Motor Co. has released what it describes as a new breed of passenger vehicle, the compact sports crossover.
The vehicle combines the agility of a compact sports car with the security and toughness of an SUV, according to Nissan, and derives its name from a term in American football to describe a quick move to avoid a tackle.
The Japanese auto giant's new Juke hit roads here on Wednesday and the company is aiming to sell 1,300 of the vehicles every month in Japan and begin overseas sales in the near future. The cars start at Y1.69 million (€15,459) while the top-of-the-range version costs Y1.79 million (€16,377).
Germany's BMW is reportedly working on a vehicle that might rival the juke, an reworked and upgraded version of the X3 that will be unveiled at the Paris motor show in September and released early next year.
If sales of the Juke and the BMW vehicle take off, other car manufacturers are likely to imitate the formula with their own compact sports crossover designs.
The Juke is powered by the world's first mass-produced 1.5-litre engine with dual injectors, giving it a fuel consumption of 19 km per litre, a 15 percent improvement on 2010 mileage standards. In Japan, this performance qualifies it for the government's tax exemption for environment-friendly vehicles. The 2.5-litre engine will also be available as an option from the autumn, Nissan said.
The exterior of the vehicle is imposing, with the raked front pillars allowing for a large windshield and improved visibility while the large round headlights are complemented by thin lights on the edge of the hood that are meant to give it the feel of a rallying car.
The Juke also benefits from Nissan's newly developed Intelligent Control Display that provides enhanced real-time driving information and makes shifting between the three drive modes settings - regular drive mode, sports mode and "Eco mode" - easier for the driver.
The car maker is also keen to emphasise the Juke's safety and green technologies, which include a tougher body shell, front seat air bags as standard and a 95 percent recyclability rate when the vehicle reaches the end of the road.