The Renault Nissan Alliance is alive and well, it seems. The upcoming Renault Kadjar replacement will be based on the Nissan Qashqai, and now Nissan benefits from Renault’s unusual E-Tech hybrid powertrain to electrify the Nissan Juke.
The new Juke Hybrid is thus powered by the novel combination of what is essentially a four-speed unsynchronised dog ’box with a 48bhp electric drive motor, a 20bhp starter-generator and a 93bhp naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine. That equates to a system output of 141bhp.
Nissan would have you believe that its hybrids give drivers the "EV feeling", but without the downsides. The Juke doesn’t. It feels like a hybrid, although thankfully a reasonably accomplished one.
In practice, the driver is usually kept at arm’s length from what the powertrain is doing. As in the Renaults, there is no tachometer and no manual control of the gears. You just put it in Drive and, most of the time, the software does a decent job of keeping everything on the boil.
We’ve previously observed that this system doesn’t quite feel its 141bhp. That’s a bit of an issue in something like the Renault Arkana, but in a smaller, lighter car like the Renault Clio E-Tech or the Juke, it works quite well, making it feel torquier and more effortless than the 1.0-litre engine in the standard Juke.
It’s no dynamic wonder, though. Under higher loads, the engine starts mooing a bit and takes a second too long to come back down after you’ve eased off the throttle, but it’s muffled well enough not to become tiresome. It avoids the 'elastic band' feeling of the CVT-like systems that Toyota and Honda use, but if you’re looking for anything you might describe as fun to drive, we’d suggest you ignore all of the hybrid options anyway.
The chassis certainly hasn’t suffered: it’s on the firmer end of the crossover class, but rarely becomes crashy or harsh. Having driven cars with 17in and 19in wheels back to back, the impact of potholes can be felt slightly more vividly with the larger wheels, but it’s not night and day.
At the same time, Nissan has taken the opportunity to make some visual tweaks for the whole Juke range. There are redesigned bumpers, different wheel options, a new rear spoiler and improved audio and keyless entry systems. You’ll recognise the hybrid from the partially blanked-off grille.