The Nissan Juke is one of those rare cars that broke the mould.
Nissan literally created the compact crossover phenomenon in 2010 when it launched the quirky Juke. The rest is history.
The list of challengers for the Juke’s crown gets bigger and deadlier, but it’s still there – selling nearly 40,000 examples during 2014 in the UK alone.
The Juke’s had a refresh for 2015 and it’s going to need all the help it can get because this year it’s been joined by the critically acclaimed Citroen Cactus and Fiat 500X.
Up until now its main oppostion has been in the shape of the Renault Captur, Vauxhall Mokka, Peugeot 2008 and MINI Countryman.
The changes are more than just cosmetic. Ok, there are some “design enhancements” including, new lights up front with LED daytime running lamps and Xenon bulbs. There also the new Nissan signature grille.
At the back there are distinctive new “boomerang” lamp units and a revised bumper, while the door mirrors include LED indicators and, where fitted, cameras for the “Around View Monitor”.
Add to that a new range of wheels, three new colours, including the unmistakeable Sunlight Yellow metallic, plus new personalisation packs, and and you’ve got a car in the best possible shape to fight its corner.
Inside, there are more personalisation options, particularly if you want to continue exterior colour themes.
On a practical level, the rear boot space has been increased to an impressive 354 litres (except the 4×4 versions). The boot also features a nifty two-stage floor which is useful for hiding away items, while, as before, the rear seats fold flat, increasing the load area to an impressive 1,189 litres.
Finally, there’s a user-friendly new 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment with NissanConnect so that you can hook up your smartphone, which doubles up as a rear view camera screen.
I drove the 1.2-litre DIG-T Tekna featuring a turbocharged direct engine that replaces the outgoing 117PS 1.6-litre unit. The smooth and surprisingly punchy unit develops 115PS, emitting 126g/km of CO2 and is capable of 50.4mpg. For the record, I averaged around 40mpg during my week with the Juke.
My test car came with a slick six-speed manual gearbox and, in theory, it can reach 62mph in 10.8 seconds and reach 111mph.
There are three drivng modes – Normal, Sport and Eco. If you’re after a bit more fun, then go for Sport, but Normal or Eco are fine – and to be honest – the Juke isn’t the type of car you’re likely to throw about too much. You sit high up, it’s comfortable and everything falls to hand, but it’s no sports car.
As its styling suggests, it’s an urban crossover and towns and cities are the Juke natural habitat, though it will cruise quite happily on the motorway too.
No car is perfect and the Juke has its issues. Legroom at the back is a little tight, as is the headroom (the price you pay for that distinctive styling), while the ride is firm and can be slightly unsettling on twisty roads.
Reversing can be a little challenging due to the high waistline and small windows, but thankfully my test car was fitted with a reversing camera. That said, visibility up front is excellent.
Like all Nissans, the Juke is well built and has a quality feel. It’s also safe, boasting a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, partly due to Nissan’s ‘Safety Shield’ pack. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s made in Briain.
And after all that, I haven’t mentioned the elephant in the room – the Juke’s styling. There’s no doubt the 2015 revisions have sharpened up the Juke, but it’s still divisive. Personally, I still think it’s refreshing and I can understand why some 500,000 have been sold.
The Juke has grown up and Nissan has given it a new lease with its styling tweaks, new and improved engines, improved options and extra personalisation, but the world has moved on and it’s going to find it tough to stay ahead of the pack.
The Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T Tekna I drove cost £17,770, plus optional metallic paint (£500).