Are you a young, single, urban male? Then, according to Nissan, you’ll be interested in the Nissan Juke when it goes on sale in September.
I’m currently at a French military base just to the south of Paris, where the Juke has been unveiled for the first time.
Nissan bosses say they are sure that this highly distinctive 4m-long car – described as a cross between a crossover and a sports car – will be as successful as the Qashqai was in its market.
Nissan makes a point of not selling ‘me too, copy-car’ cars in Europe, which is why it no longer has conventional EU market models competing against the Golf and Mondeo. (Interestingly, the Ford is healthily outsold by the Qashqai, which shifted 200,000 units in Europe last year).
I’m moderately surprised at their confidence. In the metal, the Juke is pretty unusual. Imagine a Nissan Murano scaled down to fit on the same platform as a Nissan Note. The car’s proportions are quite dramatic, particularly the boat-like front end. This styling theme was dreamt up by UK-based designers at Nissan Paddington design centre.
Nissan’s design chief, Shiro Nakamura, says there are elements of the Murano, Infiniti FX and even GT-R in the Juke. He admits that the Juke has been seen as a polarizing design in customer clinics, but thinks that there are plenty of buyers who will love it, especially if they don’t mind the tight rear cabin and smallish boot.
Prices are expected to kick off at between £13,000 and £14,000, but the real interest lies with the range-topping model, which combines a 188bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and a four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring.
In steady conditions, the Juke runs as a front-driver, but when the car’s various sensors (including a yaw, steering and accelerator sensors) detect either sharp maneuvers or the onset of understeer, the drivetrain sends 50 per cent of the engine’s torque back to the rear wheels.
The rear differental can then split that torque between the rear wheels, helping the Juke steering aggressively, but steadily, into bends. The Juke has also been benched marked against cars including the Peugeot 207 and Mini and has been extensively tested on UK roads. European Jukes get their own, unique, chassis settings.
Sounds pretty handy, and an advance on what anybody else is doing in this sector. I just can’t help wondering if the Juke is really going to appeal to sportily inclined young male who will appreciate that kind of advanced drivetrain.
I suspect that it is young women who might fancy the SUV looks and car park-handy sizing.
But whoever buys it, the introduction of the Juke is great news for Nissan’s Sunderland plant.