Nissan Juke

It's got a wide grin, a cartoon body, and it will either make people smile – or recoil in horror

When Disney releases Cars 2, I hope it contains a Nissan Juke.

It's hard to imagine a car less in need of "imagineering" to render it an automotive actor. The Juke has the wide grin and the exaggerated, distorted, cartoon-like body. It's the perfect cheeky character.

This is Nissan's latest interpretation of the so-called crossover idea, the notion that cars can mix two or more automotive genres and offer the most appealing parts of both. Sometimes the crossbreeds are a little discomfiting, but sometimes they create just what many buyers had craved – even if they hadn't realised it.

Nissan is good at this, as the success of the part-hatchback, part-SUV Qashqai demonstrates. So the Juke is a smaller, younger-generation take on a similar idea, but the tone has changed. Giant wheelarches and a racy windscreen line hint at the potential for driving fun, making the Juke look like a sort of shrunken SUV sports car in super-springy trainers.

Look inside and the work of a third set of genes is revealed. In its wilder moments the Juke thinks it is a motorcycle. The instruments are set in a mock-aluminium surround, looking more like the dial cluster normally found ahead of a motorbike's handlebars, while the gloss-painted centre tunnel cover resembles a motorbike's petrol tank. You almost want to sit astride it.

The top model, with Tekna trim and a 1.6-litre, 190bhp turbocharged engine, can be had with four-wheel drive and the continuously variable automatic transmission that goes with it (and a £19,995 price tag), but most people will buy front-wheel drive Jukes (from £12,795) with that turbo engine, a 117bhp non-turbo 1.6, or a 110bhp, 1.5-litre turbodiesel.

The Juke's steering is quick and accurate, if slightly viscous-feeling, and it feels engagingly quick-witted. Firm suspension is the key to this ability, particularly its anti-roll bars, but it's not so firm as to be annoying over bumps. It's a good compromise.

Then there is the Nissan Dynamic Control, a toy worth having, which is why you need at least the middle Acenta trim level. With this you can select Normal, Eco (with reduced throttle opening to force you to drive more frugally) or Sport (a quicker, sharper accelerator response and heavier steering). With each mode comes a different display on a panel low on the centre console: a power gauge for Sport, a torque gauge for Normal, and an economy gauge for Eco. You can also log your eco-driving success via bar graphs.

And here's a very neat feature. Press the Climate button and not only does the display change to show the temperature selected, but all the mode-selection buttons suddenly change to air-con control buttons. It makes you smile, and helps you overlook the fact that the steering wheel can be adjusted only for height, the rear seats don't slide as you might expect them to, and the interior plastics are all hard.

As for which engine to choose, the 190bhp turbo gives the Juke an impressive turn of speed. The six-speed gearbox of the front-wheel, drive-test car proved intermittently unwilling to select first gear, however, and the engine emitted some curious mechanical whines.

This is a contrived car, but the coalescence of disparate genes works. The Juke is good fun to drive and to own, and it certainly gets noticed. Some people recoil in horror at the sight of it, others smile. Nissan don't make many "normal" cars any more. The likeable Juke shows there is no need.

Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Scientists believe Mercury is coated in billions of years’ worth of carbon dust, after being ‘dumped on’ by passing comets
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: IT Software Developer / Programmer

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Software Developer / Program...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executives

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of Europe's leading prov...

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £30,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a perso...

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

    £21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor