Although it’s probably not a car many will describe as fun to drive, the new Juke has more athleticism and handling poise than the average crossover of its size and price. It retains that zippy dynamic appeal that helped to mark out the original version as a car intended for more energetic and youthful drivers as well as older ones, yet it also overlays a new-found level of ride sophistication that makes it more comfortable and pleasant than its predecessor.

The steering is medium weighted and intuitively paced, and the suspension slightly firmer than the class norm but also little less comfortable than even the best rivals as a result of good, progressive vertical body control.

Those 19in alloy wheels wouldn’t be my first choice, even though they fill the Juke’s arches quite nicely. I’d opt for something smaller in a bid to get a slightly more settled town ride. It’s a touch too fidgety as is.

Unlike some cars of this kind, therefore, the Juke succeeds in making a virtue of its compactness on the road. It has the simple grip and body control to feel quite agile, whereas rivals can feel slightly soft and unresponsive by comparison.

You’re certainly not made aware that there’s any energy lost in body roll when you turn the Juke in to bends and it takes plenty of speed and commitment to make the car roll enough to disturb its ever-even distribution of grip. You can hustle it along as you might any small car with plenty of confidence, then, and at no time does the Juke feel particularly big or heavy when you do.

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During limit handling testing, the stability control systems proved very effective, and less intrusive when indicated as switched off – even though they plainly remain active in the background at all times. This seems a chassis that would lend itself to more driver-oriented applications better than the last Juke’s ever did – assuming, that is, that another Nismo-branded version of the car, in today’s emissions-punishing market, wouldn’t be such a vain hope as to be almost laughable.

Nissan Juke comfort and isolation

It might surprise you to learn that 19in alloy wheels are now standard-fit on an upper-mid-trim-level, high-rised supermini. Nissan would be quick to reply that the Juke is anything but conventional, and in some ways quite reasonably. Be that as it may, those wheels impact adversely on the car’s ride isolation as well as boosting its design appeal and its grip levels.

There’s some background roar to the Juke’s ride at A-road and motorway speeds that is clearly perceptible in the cabin, although it doesn’t seem to punish the car’s measurable refinement levels, which remain pretty low. It’s a surface-dependent noise level, worse on coarser and more open types of Tarmac than smoother and better-sealed ones – but you can’t help noticing when the car crosses from the latter to the former.

The car’s secondary ride isn’t as terse or clunky over bumps and edges as you might think, however, and its primary ride control is commendable. Sharper inputs can draw the occasional thump from the axles, but they’re seldom harsh, which goes to show how much work has evidently gone into the dynamic development of the car and how carefully the ride has been tuned.

Seat comfort is good, albeit not quite at Qashqai levels of general support – and that’s partly as a result of Nissan’s decision to fit sportier-looking ‘monoform’ seatbacks with integrated headrests rather than seats with more adjustable separate head restraints.

Nissan Juke assisted driving notes

That the Juke’s score card (opposite) contains more red marks than green is somewhat harsh on it, given that many of the semi-autonomous driver assist systems necessary to deliver against the questions we ask simply haven’t filtered down to this price level yet. Compared with rivals, though, this car is well provisioned and tuned for active safety.

Its lane keeping system operates only when the intelligent cruise control is active, which makes sense given the places and roads on which you’re likely to want it active and the ones where you’re not. It’s clearly tuned to help you, not replace your concentration or inputs, and it’s supplemented by a Blind Spot Intervention system that works well.

Our car’s speed limit recognition system pretty consistently read the posted limit but didn’t seem able to adapt the car’s set cruise control speed to match. Equally, its propensity to warn if you go only slightly over the limit isn’t too insistent or distracting.

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