SINGAPORE – Quirk with a capital ‘Q’ is the first thing that comes to mind when you catch sight of the Nissan Juke. This was Nissan’s first mini crossover and there hasn’t been another like it since its launch in 2010 – from them or anybody else. Fast forward to 2017, the competition in this segment is high, so how does the Juke stack up?
One thing’s for sure, you’d be hard-pressed to tell that the car is already seven years old. Even as we’re bumbling along, the Juke continues to turn heads with its funky, offbeat looks – something that is unheard of in an age where trends fall quickly out of fashion.
The car was facelifted in 2014 but the changes were minor and mostly cosmetic, with the addition of daytime running lights. Also, there were new front and rear bumper designs and lights with some additional rim designs. The boot is slightly bigger with a removable floor but besides that, the Juke is largely the same car.
The main selling point of this car is that it is cheap and cheerful. With the ride height and practicality, it really provides urban warrior thrills, especially since it makes a compelling alternative to one of the many humdrum hatchbacks.
Moreover, it comes with all the sporty trim and trappings to create a racy ambience, even if the Juke isn’t a sportscar or hot-hatch by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, it works well as a ‘starter’ runabout for new drivers, because its looks and cabin are suitably evocative for that all-important street-cred, yet it doesn’t have the sort of performance to get a novice into trouble.
On the dashboard, there’s a Digimon-looking display below the radio that lets you toggle between Driving Modes. It can also be configured to display Turbo Boost and Torque Meter and there’s even a g-meter. Don’t mistake this for a performance crossover though, as it becomes are apparent that these meters are just there for kicks and giggles.
Considering the displays are situated out of driving sight, it seems to be more for the entertainment of the passengers. The driving position is comfortable and suits a more leisurely style of driving than outright sportiness.
The interior quality is decent and the Euro-position of the indicator stalk reminds you this car was made in the UK and not Japan. The nat-asp 1.6-litre lacks the oomph of its Turbo counterpart, but is more than adequate to putter around town for errands, or around the campus for students who have one as a ‘starter’ car.
If Nissan is reading, I would love to a see a three-cylinder turbo and manual gearbox combination in the next generation. Then the Juke can have the spritely performance to go with the cheery looks. The problem with most oddball cars is they lose their appeal very quickly as tastes change as quickly.
To see one like the Juke that lasts longer than most cars model lifecycles is truly unique. Nissan will be at wit’s end to design a suitable replacement, but as long as the successor has the performance to match its looks, the brand could have themselves another champion.
STORY Sean Tay
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
Engine: 1598cc, inline4
Transmission: Xtronic CVT
Top speed: 170km/h
Fuel consumption: 6.3l/100km
This feature first appeared in Top Gear Singapore #62 (May 2017)