What sold the original Juke was, at first, its novelty and, thereafter, its design. Nissan offered some slightly baffling statistics about how much more distinctive people thought the old Juke was than other compact crossovers but, ultimately, its success boiled down to them liking that it looked a bit weird in a sea of anonymity. A similar distinctiveness hasn’t done the Toyota C-HR any harm since.
And the new Juke? It’s still Jukey at the front, with hints, to me, of those Land Rovers from the Sly Stallone Judge Dredd film (ask your dad), with hints of other Nissans and C-HR from the back. I thought it would be less polarising than before but our correspondence says otherwise.
Whatever, it feels comparatively conventional inside. There are imaginative touches – round air vents and, in some trim levels, rather, er, eye-catching colours. And there is a broad array of active safety and connectedness – and it talks to your smartphone, which does all of that better. But the layout is conventional, with a widely adjustable driving position, a small round steering wheel (rarer than you’d think, that sort of thing) and a gearlever reportedly much closer to the driver than before for more focus. Sportiness, perhaps (we’ll come to that). Visibility is respectable – the narrow rear window doesn’t help, but you can see a fair bit of the bonnet, so it’s no more difficult than your average supermini to handle at low speeds.
The control weights all aid that too, being light but positive. The Juke has drive modes - because what doesn’t? – with an Eco mode that makes the throttle extra treacly and a Sport mode that makes the steering too heavy.
Nissan used the word ‘sporty’ often in its presentation, but as usual things are best left in Normal, because in no mode is the Juke particularly sporty: I’d say a Seat Arona feels more nimble when it comes to it.
But that’s fine. Nissan has resisted the urge to make the Juke super-stiff to counter the inevitable compromises that come with a taller body. Even on the 19in wheels that come as standard on top models (with 225/45 section tyres), the Juke mostly rides respectably, though with a thump over big surface changes that might make the concrete bit of the M25 a bit of an ordeal, and a fair amount of road noise the rest of the time.