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Nissan's Juke no box on wheels

2011-10-25 08:23

SMALL PACKAGE: Juke's aggressive styling and big-car ride add stature.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Nissan
Model JUKE
Engine 1598 cm3, four-cylinder, 16-valve naturally aspirated; 1618cm3 four-cylinder, 16-valve turbo
Power 86kW@6000rpm; 140kW@5600rpm
Torque 158Nm@4000rpm; 240Nm@5000rpm
Transmission 5 speed manual; 6 speed manual
Zero To Hundred 11 seconds; 8 seconds
Fuel Tank 46 litres
Fuel Consumption 6.0 litres/100km; 6.9 litres/100km
Weight 1645kg; 1735kg
Boot Size 251 - 830 litres
Steering electric power steering
ABS with EBD, brake asssist, VDC
Airbags front, side and curtain
Tyres 16" Steel with covers; 17" Alloy
Front Suspension Independent McPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Suspension Torsion beam axle, coil springs
Service Intervals 15 000km
Service Plan 3 year or 90 000km
Warranty 3 year or 100 000km
Price from 198 000

Hailey Philander

Gallery: Nissan Juke

Nissan is the self-proclaimed King of Crossovers - think the Murano (1999) and Qashqai (2007) standing in good stead as a foundation. The Juke, much like the Qashqai, is something of a high-riding hatchback but where the Qashqai is spacious and practical, the Juke is all about the style.

It rides on an SUV-like base with an associated wide track, wider wheels and raised ride height, although the top of the car is meant to be all compact sports coupe with bulging curves, a narrow glasshouse and dramatically rearward-sloping roofline. Nissan sure is dying to be unconventional with this one. Even the name, apparently borrowed from American football terminology, means “side-step”.

But there are some clever touches, too, with the bulbous centre console meant to resemble a motorcycle’s fuel tank (sounds odd, is rather bulky, but it works) and the de rigueur hidden rear door releases. But kinda knowing what it is isn’t much help when it comes to placing it against competitors. Nissan sees it going against B and C-segment hatchbacks and converting these early adopters to the crossover way of life.

It offers some decent technology to help sweeten the deal, too.


The Juke is powered by two versions of Nissan's four-cylinder, 1.6 petrol engine – an 86kW/157Nm non-turbo unit and a turbo version producing 140kW/240Nm.

Although the 1.6 block is not unfamiliar (used in the Qashqai), it adds an innovative dual-injection system on the non-turbo version to help the engine run more efficiently. The twin injectors for each cylinder have smaller nozzles to produce a finer fuel spray into the combustion chamber.

Fuel economy over the previous 1.6 non-turbo is better, with Nissan crediting low-friction manufacturing techniques, new pistons and an oil-jet cooler for some of the enhancements. Other adjustments include a larger exhaust manifold, twin VTC variable timing control and an optimised air management system to improve the engine’s response in the low rev ranges.

However, those present at the media launch were treated to the 140kW turbo unit that proved to be quite the sprightly performer with smooth shifts through the chunky six-speed manual shifter.


Nissan’s I-Con interface debuts on the Juke, allowing drivers to toggle between aircon and other settings, among other things.

CLEVER STUFF: The optional leather upholstery on the top-spec Tekna with body-coloured accents.

Depending on the Interactive Driver Control system’s settings, the throttle mapping is matched and steering ideally weighted for the task at hand. There are three modes enabling the driver to switch on the fly between Eco, Normal and Sport. It is envisioned that Eco mode will be used in stop/start city/suburban traffic where manouevrability and a lighter steering feel are welcomed; on the other end of the scale, the steering firms up nicely for more accurate cornerinng in Sport mode.

While Normal mode was adequate and should be very useful for pottering about the suburbs, the Sport mode with its fiery responsiveness and willing nature was most endearing. It also appeared to induce a rampant thirst in the little one…

It’s more petite than the Qashqai but is similarly gifted with impeccable road manners. The cars ride on the trusty B platform used across the Renault-Nissan alliance although with a fair number of adjustments.


The Macpherson front strut is now mounted to a cradle sub-frame and the chassis uses a new ring arrangement to connect the body to the rear suspension. The front and rear tracks have been pushed out to 1525mm (it also allows the Juke to accommodate its strapping 17” wheels).

The ride is truly comfortable and absorbent, the road-holding solid enough to encourage the odd chucking through bends dotted along the circuitous launch route that took us from the Johannesburg CBD to trendy parts of Pretoria and back again.

Interestingly, the I-Con unit is also used to provide a range of driving data, allows one to determine the general car settings and manipulate the aircon and audio settings, for instance.

The Juke is very compact but provides comfortable seating for up front; the rear bench could take three skinnies at most although the headroom was surprisingly good for a little car with a big coupe image.

For practical purposes, while the two-tier boot holds a concealed compartment, the basic boot is rather snug with 250 litres of storage space on hand. Fling the split rear bench forward and this space swells to 830 litres.

YOU'LL SPOT IT: Juke's distinctive styling is continued at the rear.

Nissan’s familiar specification levels are present, starting with the Acenta, moving to the Acenta + mid-range and topping off with the Tekna range-topper (for now). It has to be said that Nissan mentioned at the launch that the Juke R, the one with the engine lifted from the fearsome GT-R, will be made available in a very limited numbers and will only be made available in four designated European countries.

Hard luck for prospective Juke owners in SA but it does get better; diesel, CVT and all-wheel drive models are under consideration for South Africa.

Back in sunny SA, though, even the Acenta base model is packed with safety and convenience features. All models have six airbags and ABS and VDC and the Juke has a five-star EuroNCAP crash-survival rating.

Service intervals are at 15 000km and all cars are sold with a three-year or 90 000km service plan plus a three-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.


1.6 Acenta  -  R198 000
1.6 Acenta +  -  R218 500
1.6 Turbo Tekna  -  R253 000 (add R5800 for optional heatable leather seats on this model)

Gallery: Nissan Juke

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