What is it?
The all-new Nissan Juke, of which we’ve driven one variant before – a not especially pokey diesel variety, sampled abroad.
This version is a tad more relevant to the Juke’s supposed purpose of being a crossover between an SUV and – get this – a sports car. A 1.6 turbo with 188bhp provides what should be a hot-hatch level of shove.
At a touch over £17,000, the 4.1-metre-long Juke is of hot-hatch price and length, too, yet funkier looking than most. The styling cuts some width from the rear cabin and the boot, but I suspect not drastically enough for it to be a deal breaker. The cabin’s cutely designed, too.
Do you feel, though, slightly unsettled about the idea of a cross between an SUV and a sports car? Me too. From a marketing viewpoint, I can see the appeal. But from an engineering or driving perspective, you can imagine the compromises.
What’s it like?
It’s certainly no full SUV. This test Juke is a front-wheel-drive model with road tyres, but at 1300kg and 1570mm it’s still heavier and taller than something sporting ought to be.
So it seems to me that Nissan has done the obvious thing to get it to display some dynamism, and made it hard. Too hard.
I checked the tyre pressures after a drive, just in case they were massively overinflated. They were fine. The ride, forever fidgety, is not so. On the road it reminded me a bit of an early Toyota RAV4 or a tall current Honda Civic. Sophisticated in feel it ain’t.
The firmness means body control is tight and there isn’t too much roll, but while the electrically assisted steering is respectable (albeit largely mute), traction is poor, especially in the wet, where the front washes out easily.
Should I buy one?
The Juke is interesting and, in its way, fun. The drivetrain is sweet, providing brisk top-end urge with an idle so quiet that the revcounter sitting at 1000rpm is the only reassurance that it doesn’t stop-start.
In the end, though, for me the drivetrain, and the visual and conceptual appeal don’t quite do enough to overcome the Juke’s dynamic flaws – not in this model, at least.
Perhaps other variants ride better. In the meantime, it seems to me that SUVs and sports cars mix better in theory than in practice.
Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T Tekna
Price: £17,395; Top speed: 133mph; 0-62mph: 8.0sec; Economy: 40.9mpg (combined); CO2: 159g/km; Kerb weight: 1289kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1618cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 188bhp at 5600rpm; Torque: 177lb ft at 2000-5200rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual