The Nissan Juke, on sale since 2010, was very much the forerunner of the compact SUV market.
The unusual and sometimes divisive looks came from a Nissan project called the Pike Factory. This was a somewhat “out there” design offshoot that came about in the late 1980s.
However, the Juke is actually the real-world version of a concept car called the Qazana, which was showcased at the 2009 Geneva motor show.
Basing an SUV on a super-mini platform was an idea that has been roundly lapped up by British buyers.
A facelift in 2014 brought a much needed bigger boot and some other small tweaks in an effort to keep a firm foothold in the market.
Before considering engines, buyers should generally avoid the automatic versions as these use a CVT gearbox which can make for a noisy and less than exciting drive.
The range starts with two underwhelming 1.6 litre petrol engines, which are not a great choice.
Next comes the 1.2 litre turbo DIG-T option which is a little faster but really makes gains in terms of torque.
Then there’s quite a jump up to the 1.6 DIG-T Turbo petrol engine that churns out a whopping 187bhp and zips to 60mph in just 7.8 seconds.
The top of the pile is the bonkers 215bhp Nismo RS which is really only for a niche market.
The range’s only diesel could well be the best option for most people as it delivers the same torque figures as the Nismo version but offers 70.6mpg and jus 104g/km of CO2. While the petrol engines offer between 44 and 50mpg.
The Juke is available in four-wheel drive but only in the larger 1.6 DIG-T and the Nismo versions and both sadly only have the CVT gearbox.
Ride and handling
Although the Juke may be considered to be a part of the small hatchback market, it simply doesn’t drive like it belongs in this category.
It rides quite high and, although drivers may feel they are in something quite spritely, body roll is a factor on tight corners.
The higher powered engines can also leave the car feeling quite skittish under heavy acceleration. That being said the ride is comfortable and the high driving position will appeal to many buyers.
The small size means it’s easy to park but has the solid feel of a larger SUV when driving. In town the light steering really makes life easy but some drivers may miss some feeling through the wheel.
Interior and space
Despite many good points there’s no escaping the fact the Juke is not a car with generous rear seating or boot space and this is even more apparent in the four-wheel drive versions. The motorcycle inspired binnacle looks good but a lack of steering adjustment is a downside.
The range starts with the Visia which gets air conditioning, electric windows and door mirrors but no infotainment system. The N-Connecta models get the brilliant NissanConnect touchscreen Nav and entertainment system, DAB radio, 6 speaker audio system, reversing camera, push-button start and electric folding mirrors. This is certainly the option to go for if budget allows.
The Tekna gets all of the above as well as heated seats and lane departure warning leaving the Nismo version with only sporty interior and handling add-ons to offer.
The five-star Euro NCAP rating combined with the usual safety assists makes the Juke a very safe car.
What to know before you buy
The Juke has been around for nearly 7 years now and has no major reliability issues to note. Nissans are generally well built and thanks to the UK’s own Sunderland factory the Juke really is a safe bet.
There’s a 3-year or 60,000-mile warranty with the Juke. This does come with some extras that offer drivers a hotel room and replacement car in certain situations. Servicing is equally uncomplicated with fixed prices for minor and major services.
The Diesel version costs £159 and £249 for minor and major servicing respectively, while the petrol cars come in at £149 and £219. Nissan also offers roadside assistance as part of the servicing deal.
What are the alternatives?
It’s hard to think of alternatives without considering a number of hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta, which fulfill many of the Juke’s roles in a better way. But keeping to the compact SUV segment means the Renault Captur is certainly a strong contender. Especially seeing as it shares at least some of the Juke’s engines and prices.
The Vauxhall Mokka is also an option for Juke buyers but falls short in many areas and only really offers a solid alternative in terms of looks. The Mazda CX-3 provides very strong competition with great looks and equipment but with starting prices around £3,000 more than the Juke it’s certainly not the cheapest choice.
The Juke looks unique and it’s this that makes it appealing to many. Nissan offers solid reliability and build quality as well as safety. The tech and spec options are good and the cost is well matched to competitors. However, the Juke is not a driver’s car - it will never wrestle BMW 1 Series drivers away nor will it impress Fiesta drivers in terms of engagement.
The Juke may not even be the most practical car on the market but that doesn’t matter to a lot of people. It’s a fun, funky and still surprisingly fresh car. It will also give owners years of happy motoring without too much in the way of running costs.
Thanks to these traits the Juke will continue to sell well, as Nissan look towards a new 2017 model.