Not as odd as before – much less Pike Factory, if you know your quirky Nissans – but still unmissable. The huge, Hella-style headlights that look as though they should be fog lights remain, but the daytime-running lights above them are slimmer and now much more integrated into the Juke’s stern face. The old sidelights were perched atop the bonnet like those you’ll find on a Mercedes G-Wagen, but were changed because of their poor aero qualities and the fact they were pretty divisive among owners.
Elsewhere, both the front and rear wheelarches are less cartoonishly curvaceous but the greater expanse of bodywork between them is now aggressively scalloped, and the boot aperture is wider because Nissan has split the tail lights between the hatch itself and the corners of the bodywork, rather than mounting them entirely on the latter. There’s also greater rake to the front and rear screens, and, with a body that’s longer and wider than before, the designers achieved their aim of making the Juke look more stable, and better stuck to the road.
But the Juke isn’t really stuck to the road – and I mean this in the positive sense. Point it down a B-road and you’ll wonder exactly how Nissan managed to make the closely-related Micra so dreary to drive when it’s clearly capable of much better.
The steering is genuinely good, being quicker to respond than before but not at all nervous and with a slight firmness off-centre (there’s now a touch more castor angle) that builds nicely as the front tyres load up. Casual drivers will still find the ride on the firm side, and more so on the larger 19in wheels (genuinely, unless you crave the stance-enhancing larger size, stick to the 17in items), which make for a choppy low-speed gait, but get the Juke going up near the national speed limit and that firmness translates into a taut flow and body control rare in this normally underwhelming class.
The Nissan has unexpected poise, is accurate, easy to place and confidence inspiring; it also doesn't roll much at all, carries speed well, and with good front-axle grip (relative to the rear – despite new rubber, the Juke's no limpet) has a Ford-like keenness for neatly bringing its tail into play. Which is interesting, because given the standards set by the latest Fiesta and Focus, you would expect the upcoming Puma – a head-on Juke competitor – to be better still, but we’ll have to wait to find out. Somebody, at some point, has to make this class interesting for enthusiasts. There's too much talent in the industry for it not to happen, and it feels like we're getting close.
Elsewhere, it’s more ordinary. The light action of the six-speed gearshift (whose plinth is brightly red-ringed at night-time) is too generously damped and long of throw, and the engine never displays much hunger for revs. It seems a distant, remote thing, though our test car’s factory-fresh DIG-T unit probably had still to loosen up. The flip-side is that, even during motorway cruising with 2500rpm on the tacho in sixth gear, the Juke’s cabin feels well isolated.