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Nissan Juke: Test Drive Review

Date: 09 July 2010   |   Author: Tristan Young

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £16,980
Key rival: Mini Countryman

Nissan hopes its latest car, the Juke, will replicate the mould-breaking success and user-chooser appeal enjoyed by the Qashqai, but in a smaller size category.

Based on the current generation Micra platform, the Juke is what Nissan calls part SUV, part sports car, and certainly looks the part with some stand-out styling.

Nissan claims that because it doesn't fit the normal supermini segment appearance it doesn't have any natural rivals. However, considering this is a style-led car, user-choosers will probably also consider the forthcoming Mini Countryman, the Citroen DS3 or even the Audi A1 due late this year, although unlike the DS3 or A1, the Juke is a five-door car.

Unfortunately, the car's CO2 emissions aren't as stunning as the looks. Three engines will be available in the UK when the car goes on sale in September: a 110hp 1.5-litre diesel and two 1.6-litre petrol engines, producing 117hp or a rather hefty 190hp. The 1.5-litre diesel comes in at 134g/km, which equates to an 18% BIK banding, and the regular 117hp 1.6 petrol comes in at 147g/km (also 18% BIK).

As with the larger Qashqai, you can order a Juke - the 190hp petrol - with four-wheel drive, but most people won't. Instead, company car drivers are likely to choose the more efficient front-drive versions.

Inside, headroom for adults is limited, although legroom isn't bad for a supermini. The boot's an okay-in-class 251 litres, however, the 4x4 version is slightly less as there's no underfloor storage due to a full size spare (the front-drive cars get a can of foam). But the biggest let-down as far as the interior is concerned is the quality of some of the plastics used, and the door lining and the dash top are particularly hard.

The high-tech integrated aircon and dynamic drive set-up control, standard on the two higher trims, is a redeeming feature. The display enables the driver to control the steering weight and throttle response in three pre-set modes: normal, eco and sport. In the diesel, there's little difference, but it's more marked in the more powerful 1.6 petrol.

Unfortunately, the dynamic drive system doesn't alter the suspension as it's set to firm and jiggly on anything but ultra-smooth roads. The positive side of this is that body roll is minimal and the steering responsive.

However, a bumpy ride is unlikely to stop user-choosers signing up to the Juke, because it does offer something different and fun in one of the most competitive segments in fleet.