It has been said before. The Nissan Juke has a superpower. It has the unique ability to polarize a room. When it comes to this weird and wonderful car, it’s either love- or loathing at first sight. Nissan, being the collection of rocket-surgeons that they are, obviously know not to fix something that isn’t broken. Which is why the Juke has remained not only on our market but has also remained relatively unchanged in form since its first launch in October of 2011. This is the best indicator that South Africa comes down on the side of lov’it! not loathe it.
And for good reason. You’d be forgiven for thinking of the Juke as the little brother in a family dominated by the larger SUV Crossovers, being the Qashqai and the X-Trail. The truth is the “larger” Qashqai outweighs the Juke by a scant 40kg and the two engines are very comparable, especially when looking at the fuel consumption for a combined cycle, which bottoms out at just over 8 litres per 100km. With its latest overhaul in 2015, Nissan (in addition to some contour enhancements) added a direct-injected turbo engine to the base models Jukes as well.
However, the promise that lies in the Juke’s racey form and low-slung lines comes to the fore when that same 85kW, 190Nm engine that graces the Qashqai kicks into gear. Where its bigger kin can easily come to feel ponderous, the Juke is fleet footed and responsive in comparison. Its stiffer suspension and lower vantage make for a more immersive driving experience without sacrificing driver comfort. The six speed manual transmission echoes the moto grand prix layout of the cabin with smooth, sure transitions from go to gone.
Having said all that, it is a smaller SUV Crossover. The question becomes: did Nissan’s expansion of the boot space to a respectable 354 litres detract from the inner dimensions at all? It did not. Driver and front passenger can luxuriate with ample leg-, elbow- and headroom and while the back seat echoes the upright outlay of some popular bakkies more than that of your more common hatchbacks, only Globetrotters might find it a tight fit. Although all of us might find reason to dribble at the sight of the Juke.
So, if you are lucky enough to find yourself on the lov’it! side of the fence, rest easy knowing that your instincts have led you right: the Juke is as exactly as weird and wonderful as it looks. And if you’re still on the fence, go polarize yourself. Book a test drive today!