What is it?
This is Nissan’s latest cross-over, a Qashqai in miniature of still stronger style. Huge wheelarch blisters, a tapering, turret-like glasshouse, a great grin of a grille and exceptionally shapely lamps give this five door hatch an admirably individual and tough-looking character.
The Juke’s direct competitors are rare but include the new Mini Countryman, the Kia Soul, the Suzuki SX-4/Fiat Sedici twins and Toyota’s near-invisible Urban Cruiser. Like these rivals this Nissan is a cross of supermini and SUV, its size placing it near the top of the segment in terms of scale.
Four-wheel drive – complete with rear axle torque-vectoring – is available, though only with the most powerful 187bhp 1.6 turbo and the highest trim, this car far more about on-roading than off. Other engines include a normally aspirated 1.6 of 85bhp, the likely best-seller (but unavailable for test) and the 109bhp 1.5 dCi diesel sampled here.
What’s it like?
This is a highly stylish car outside and in, and it has a fair depth of capability to go with it. Once you’ve absorbed the almost startlingly bold exterior there’s a pretty distinctive interior to enjoy too.
A high-mounted floor console and door trim details finished in metallic silver (attractive) or metallic red (a bit much) are complemented by quite a shapely dash, its canopied silver-rimmed instruments and gloss-black infotainment display diverting you from the fact that all of these structures are hard-surfaced.
There’s loads of stowage space – in contrast to the Qashqai – and aside from the need to manoeuvre knees and feet past the ‘B’ pillar into the rear, there’s plenty of room too, to be enjoyed from seating of some height.
But the best on-board toy, found on all but the entry-level Visia, is the Nissan Dynamic Control System, this low-mounted panel toggling between a set of driving mode controls (Normal, Sport, Eco) and the climate control, the markings on the switches changing to suit either sub-system at the stab of a switch.