Nissan Juke 2020 long-term review
What can this new Juke offer that others in a now-crowded crossover market can’t? We had six months to find out
*Why we ran it: *To see if the Juke can continue to hold its own in a crowded compact SUV market
-Month 6 - Month 5 - Month 4 - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Prices and specs-
-Life with a Nissan Juke: Month 6-
*We’ve driven 4000 miles in Sunderland’s second-generation compact crossover. So how did it fare? - 7 October 2020*
When you consider the cars on Autocar’s fleet at the moment, the Nissan Juke stands out for not standing out. That’s saying something given how radical its styling once was – and, to some extent, is still considered to be.
It’s not electric like our Vauxhall Corsa-e, nor is it retro like the Honda E or a bold new sports car like the Toyota GR Supra. No, what we have here is a trusty compact crossover using a 115bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It might not be revolutionary these days but it remains massively relevant: it is built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, remains part of a still-growing segment and is the maker’s second-biggest UK seller after the Qashqai, as it has long been.
Our time with this second-generation Juke made us appreciate everything that was always desirable about the car and why Nissan did what it did to improve it. Notable revisions are a far better interior, using higher-quality materials, and more cabin space, particularly in the rear and the boot. That increase in space is in part thanks to this Juke being built on the new CMF-B platform – a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi co-production shared with the Renault Captur and Clio.
The interior is clearly a step up, and general comfort is something I noticed on longer trips, no doubt helped by the ‘monoform’ seats, which are standard and also found in the Qashqai.
The interior is also less bland than those of many rivals, such as the Seat Arona and Skoda Karoq, and for some that’s a preference. News ed Lawrence Allan, in an earlier report, said he preferred the Juke’s interior styling over the safer Ford Puma’s.
One major drawback in our long-termer was the functionality of its systems. Most annoying was the touchscreen – something I’ve mentioned a number of times, I know – but these days it’s an important consideration for motorists.
Not only did a data agreement have to be agreed to or declined every time the car was turned on and before I could access the infotainment system on screen, but also, once over that hurdle, it more often than not didn’t recognise a touch input. It almost never recognised a first touch of the screen when I tried to change radio stations, and it often took three or more prods to respond. It was irritating at best and a distraction while driving at worst. Glitches aside, the system was easy to get to grips with, as was Apple CarPlay compatibility.
There were a few more grumbles, such as an irritating click that could be heard somewhere in the dashboard every time the rear wiper moved, some impossible to place rattles somewhere in the back and side lumbar supports on the seats that creaked when going around corners. In isolation none of those were big issues, but if you’ve spent £23k on a new car, it’s not good enough.
Given the limitations of socialising this year, I didn’t manage to pack the Juke with people to see how it fared, but I did load the car with ample garden waste for a pre-booked tip slot or three, and it coped well. A chest of drawers wasn’t quite so well accommodated – it nearly went in but the slightly awkward shape of the upper aperture of the boot (which you don’t get on an Arona, for example) meant the furniture wouldn’t quite fit. Still, I don’t think a compact crossover can be criticised for that.
It will come as no surprise to most of you that the Juke doesn’t occupy a segment targeting keen drivers. If driver engagement is a priority, a Ford Puma is probably your best bet, but the Juke fared pretty well in this respect. It felt planted and confidence inspiring on every road it went on, including the more fun, rural roads.
On the local, speed-bump-ridden roads it tends to spend much of its time, the Juke demonstrated good stability, although opting for smaller wheels (our car came on 19s) would inevitably bring a kinder ride on broken urban roads.
The turbocharged 115bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine (it’s the only option for now, although we’re still expecting a hybrid) was always sufficient, and that with plenty of motorway driving.
A minor downside was limited torque at both the very top and very bottom of the rev range, with the low-rev shortfall meaning stalling happened more often than is acceptable for anyone, let alone a motoring journalist… The impressively quiet unit has another unintended outcome: making you realise you could be in a much higher gear.
The Juke has been everything I’d expect from a compact SUV – barring the few niggles, which I hope are the exception rather than the rule. It’s a comfortable, well-specified and practical car, not made to set your soul on fire but instead offering easy day-to-day motoring in all scenarios – which I suspect is what every buyer of a Juke is looking for.
The new Juke didn’t leave as big a first impression as the original did almost a decade ago. Yet this new one is growing on me. The honed design doesn’t feel like it’ll date as quickly as the previous car’s, and it’s at the better end of the class to drive. Still, I’d have the equivalent supermini over a small SUV any day, but that’s another story.
*Back to the top*
*Snazzy wheels *Good-looking diamond-cut alloys got plenty of admiring glances out and about.
*Overall comfort *No complaints from me or my passengers about comfort on any journey, short or long.
*Overzealous safety systems *Dashboard alerts flashed for no apparent reason far too regularly.
*Random rattles *I wasn’t able to pin them down, but some fittings in the rear could have been more securely mounted.
*Tempestuous touchscreen *It could take four prods for the screen to acknowledge my finger – not acceptable really.
*Final mileage: 7387*
*Back to the top*
-Life with a Nissan Juke: Month 5-
*Somewhat unhelpful assistance - 30 September 2020*
To be clear, I’m pro any system that makes cars safer. But ‘my’ Nissan Juke (along with many other cars) does a terrible job of pre-empting (or not) danger ahead. Countless times, a large red bar has flashed up on the instrument panel along with a sound alert for no reason. It happens regularly when there’s a car moving in an adjacent lane on the motorway. More terrifying than helpful. R
*Back to the top*
*When asked to join a convoy of supercars along a series of great driving roads, we knew just the car for the job - 16 September 2020*
It’s an unlikely day: I rock up at a five-star hotel in the picturesque Cotswolds in our modest Juke, where every other car in sight costs at least five times what the Nissan does.
I’m here for two reasons: one, it’s the first time I’ve given the Juke a proper run beyond some motorway-focused trips since lockdown began, and two, there’s a new smartphone app I’ve been invited to trial that promises excellent road trip routes in the UK and Europe.
Maybe it’s just me, or London dwellers more generally, but it’s a perennial (first-world) problem of mine: I want to go for a drive on some decent roads, but where? The Ultimate Drives app, created by the same people who run driving tours in Europe for typically wealthy supercar owners, lets you pick a road trip via a number of drop-down menus, including location, type (eg mountains, wine routes, coasts and lakes) and adrenaline rating (high, medium or low), and comes up with suggested routes. Its most popular route is, unsurprisingly, the stunning Grossglockner Pass in Austria, but for now we’re keeping closer to home with a route entitled ‘A run through the Cotswolds’.
I’d whizzed along a large stretch of the M4 to the start point in Castle Combe, reflecting on how I’ve never thought the Juke was meant for mile-munching but that it actually does this remarkably well. Much of the journey was completed through a torrential downpour, during which I discovered an unwelcome quirk of the Juke – every time the rear wiper moves, something in the instrument panel or stalk clicks. Every time.
The owners of all the other, well, prettier cars have been invited along as loyal clients of Ultimate Drives, with founder Mark Heather explaining that most people present do at least one European driving tour a year with the firm. The app is where Heather wants the business to develop, though. A basic version is free, but the Premium edition, which includes Google Maps integration, costs £15.99 annually.
Once I’ve set up the app on my phone, I connect it via wire to the Juke and the route appears in Google Maps through Apple CarPlay exactly as if I’d input any other destination. The difference here is that Google Maps is directing me to a number of waypoints – in this case seven, which ensure a varied, scenic route with plenty of good driving roads.
On my route, four of the stops are pubs or eateries as well as the final destination, giving drivers and their companions plenty of options for food and drink. Heather plans to make the Premium subscription more appealing through tie-ups, be it discounts at restaurants along the way, places to visit or even a deal on a rental car.
Around 30,000 use the app globally, and the goal is to hit 100,000 by the start of next year. For this day, we’re primarily in convoy, but that’s not the purpose of the app. I’ve opted to drive at the back of the pack – a shrewd choice when you’re up against a Ferrari Portofino, Porsche 911 GT3, Alpine A110 and more. It’s amusing to pootle along behind the others, seeing the endless head-turning of village locals, amazed at the sight of 20-plus sports cars in procession.
Given the recent downpours, the rural lanes host far more debris than the driver of a hundred-grand sports car would like. I find myself grateful to be in the Juke, without having to worry about damaging the car thanks to its slightly higher ride height (or a lot higher compared with a Ferrari) and compact size. When a large SUV comes the other way, I’m confident that the Juke will be able to take refuge on a verge with no trouble.
There are enough quiet, windy roads – especially once the sports cars have got away – for me to test the cornering abilities of the Juke. Surprise: it’s not a car tuned for dynamism, but it did hold firm into bends at moderate speeds and with a quiet, reassuring confidence. And whether here or on the motorway, its power is always sufficient if rarely much more than that.
The final destination, a charming pub in Nether Westcote, completes the 60-mile route. From there, I eventually pick up the M40 to head back towards London. By the time I get home, I’ve spent six hours or so in the Juke and feel neither restless nor fed up.
All of the other cars in my convoy would have been immeasurably more fun than the Juke but, nonetheless, any vehicle in which I can spend that long with my comfort and humour intact gets a thumbs up.
*Plain sailing *The Juke is proving itself to be an excellent all-rounder for town, rural and motorway life.
*Minor flaws *Things like random clicking, touchscreen glitches and rear rattling cause irritation.
*Back to the top*
-Life with a Nissan Juke: Month 4-
*Is the seminal small SUV better than its new rival from Ford? - 26 August 2020*
The Nissan Juke may have established the compact crossover segment, but the space is now flooded with rivals. New kid on the block the Ford Puma was named a Game Changer at this year’s Autocar Awards and received 4.5 stars in our road test. So which do we like best? I chew the fat with news editor Lawrence Allan, who has recently spent a chunk of time with a Puma, on comparisons between the two.
*RB: *The Juke has always stood out for its Marmite styling, but it has done well off the back of it. And this new model looks a lot more mature. Plus, the snazzy wheels on mine get plenty of admiring glances – not expected on a volume-built compact crossover. The Puma is more subtle overall but going towards bland…
*LA: *Yes, I’ve never been a fan of the Juke’s design, but there’s no doubt that the new one updates the formula successfully. People were buying the original in their droves even at the end of its life, so if it ain’t broke… By comparison, the Puma looks probably less interesting and quirky, yet it has still divided opinion. I prefer the Ford’s exterior look, personally; it’s better in the metal than pictures.
*RB:* What about the interior, then? The new Juke’s cabin is significantly better than the old one. That said, glitches with the touchscreen and more and more unexplained rattling are irksome. I reckon the Puma looks smarter and less busy inside, and perhaps the touchscreen is easier to use, but I’m not sure there’s much in it.
*LA:* Yes, the Juke is a revelation inside compared with the old one (so it should be, given how outdated that was). I actually prefer the Juke inside, not because of any extra kit or better ergonomics but purely due to its funkier design and use of premium materials, such as Alcantara. The Puma is perfectly fine inside and has a better infotainment interface, but it’s just a little too dark and dour in some places – a trait common among Ford’s latest models.
*RB:* Neither car is hugely accommodating in the back, but two adults are fine for a short time. The biggest issue in both is the high window line, which (in the Juke especially) makes the cars feel dark and claustrophobic.
*LA: *A classic case of form over function. The Puma has an ace up its sleeve with its novel Megabox: a deep well in the boot that allows you to stand golf clubs or tall plants vertically. I also love that it’s easy to wipe down and has a plughole at the bottom, so you could wash muddy wellies, for example.
*RB*: In many ways, interior and comfort is more important in this segment than driving dynamics. The Juke drives fine – most owners will be satisfied – but it’s never going to set your soul on fire.
*LA:* The Puma is by far and away the nicest-driving small crossover I’ve driven, as it should be given that it’s based on the excellent Fiesta platform. That balance of comfort and agility Ford nails is back. That may not be the biggest draw in this class, but it counts for something.
*Standout styling *Distinctive looks make the Juke stand out in a class that’s mostly guilty of bland design.
*Software failures *The glitchy infotainment touchscreen continues to irritate, particularly while I’m driving.
*Back to the top*
-Life with a Nissan Juke: Month 3-
*Touchscreen a struggle - 8 July 2020*
Despite the distinct improvements in the Juke’s cabin over its predecessor, the touchscreen has become a bugbear. Press a control with your finger and one of three outcomes occurs: nothing happens; the control becomes highlighted, you hear the system click – and still nothing happens; or it works. So far, the first two are most common.
*Back to the top*
*Can you tell the difference? - 17 June 2020*
Nearly every car designer will talk about the importance of family resemblance in a line-up – and many, such as Audi, have been criticised for taking that too far. What about Nissan, then? I’ve always been able to quickly differentiate its models on the road, which isn’t always the case with a Q3 or Q5… Still, there’s plenty in common, as I spotted on a recent trip to the fuel station. Being the same colour helps, but the similarities between the Juke and Micra were striking from this angle.
*Back to the top*
-Life with a Nissan Juke: Month 2-
*The interior has certainly been improved, but it’s not perfect - 20 May 2020*
Ask Nissan what its key goal was for the latest Juke and it will tell you: an improved interior.
At the car’s launch, European design boss Matt Weaver said the quality inside had “jumped quite a few levels” and that it’s intended to be less playful and more mature than the original.
When you compare the centre console and infotainment functions of old versus new, that’s certainly true. There’s the obligatory larger touchscreen, plus a major simplification of function controls around the screen and for heating and air conditioning controls, too.
There are also undoubtedly better quality plastics. Whether it’s on a par with the Seat Arona or Renault Captur is debatable. It’s personal opinion but, for me, this gripe isn’t exclusive to Nissans but also other Japanese car makers, whose approach to interior materials seems quite different to European brands’.
The same goes for the touchscreen and buttons: the graphics still look a tad ’90s, as do the words such as ‘Map’, ‘Audio’ and ‘Camera’ below. That doesn’t mean it isn’t intuitive to use, though, because it mostly is.
Other interior points of note: our Tekna trim level has eight Bose speakers (I reckon a record for this segment), including one in each front headrest. It’s a nice touch and certainly means good sound, although I wonder if it’s slight overkill at this level of the market.
The seats have so far proved comfortable on long journeys (although I haven’t done any of those for a while…), and the heated seats warm up quickly. Sitting in the passenger seat, the right side bolster rubs against the centre storage box, creating a squeaking sound. Minor but bloody irritating.
*Back to the top*
*Not quite the favourite child - 13 May 2020*
For all the Juke’s success, it has never lived up to its bigger sibling, the Qashqai, in sales volume. That ageing model has remained in the top 10 UK best-sellers for many years now, whereas the Juke hasn’t had a look-in. Still, in 2013, the Juke’s biggest-selling year to date in Europe, sales topped 100,000. (Less than half were sold in 2019.)
Whether Nissan can return to those numbers with the second-gen Juke, given the saturation of the compact SUV segment, remains to be seen – but given that its Renault Captur rival amassed a whopping 222,540 European sales last year, it certainly has something to aim for.
*Back to the top*
*Two brief outings highlight key benefits of this urban crossover - 6 May 2020*
You’ll be glad to hear that the Juke has been parked up outside my house almost exclusively since this horrible crisis came into play. Which prompts the question: how much can you learn about a car in two short trips?
The first was to Tesco. I’d put it off for a month but, with no chance of getting a delivery slot and with others far more in need of them, I braved the excursion on a Saturday morning. Firstly, it was just bloody satisfying to be back behind the wheel of a car. True, one might have picked something else to drive as a special treat but, all the same, the Juke is a great urban getaround, making manoeuvring easy, especially in a chaotic supermarket car park.
The second journey was a stranger story. On my front porch arrived a large box of delicious-looking fruit and veg that I hadn’t ordered. I messaged the only number on the delivery note and, after some chasing, established that the intended receiver already had a veg box.
It felt greedy to keep it so I contacted a local Facebook group to see if anyone was in more need. In and around Twickenham right now, there’s a wonderful initiative where neighbourhood co-ordinators direct goods to those who need them. Ours told me of someone called Lucy who was unwell and unable to leave her flat. Lucy wanted the veg and so I ventured on a short car ride to drop it off.
My Juke’s boot is still, shamefully, full of detritus from clearing out my nan’s house weeks ago, so the box had to go on the rear seats. Despite the many speed bumps and and around Twickenham right road surfaces in need of attention, concerns about the contents of the box on the move were nil, showcasing the Juke’s excellent ride stability.
*Back to the top*
-Life with a Nissan Juke: Month 1-
*Our fresh-looking crossover escapes town for one last pre-lockdown jaunt - 15 April 2020*
With lockdown just a few days away and already attempting social distancing (had anyone even heard of this phrase four weeks ago?), my partner and I decided to get out of town to pick up my in-laws’ dog Stan for a countryside walk. I thought it would be perfect photograph fodder for these very pages – but Labrador Stan is so distracting that I, well, forgot.
Still, we wouldn’t have got a good shot of him sitting in the boot because Stan is used to the lap of luxury in the front passenger footwell – and so it was that Stan demonstrated the better leg room in the new Juke than the old by stretching out in between the legs of my 6ft 2in partner, where he seemed perfectly comfortable. Rather than thinking to entertain you with a picture of a dog in a car, instead I grabbed a shot of the Juke after Stan’s walk, during which he sat in every puddle he saw.
Since then the Juke has, unsurprisingly, been stationary outside my house. But it being there for so long has helped me reflect on how much more attractive it is than its predecessor. I’m not one for bold automotive design so the Juke isn’t naturally the car for me, but despite it very much being an evolution of the first-gen model, I think it looks considerably better.
My two-tone option, including the black roof, shows it off in its best light, though. If it were all white, I’m not so sure I’d be convinced… My mum, also a sensible car buyer (Astra, Golf, Golf, Golf, T-Roc), said how much less ugly this new model is, so it’s not just me.
That, plus its improved practicality including a boot only eight litres smaller than the Qashqai’s and 58mm of extra rear leg room, means it will appeal to more than just previous Juke owners. Nissan says a third of new Juke buyers previously owned a Juke, while 52% previously owned another Nissan, all of which means there’s plenty of room for conquest customers.
Before this crazy new world descended on us, I managed a few motorway journeys. The 115bhp 1.0 turbo three-pot delivers in almost all scenarios. Its only downfall is limited bottom-end torque, which means I’ve stalled it a few too many times. It’s also impressively quiet, which has an unexpected effect: I’ve found myself in fourth when I think I’m in sixth.
I’m getting used to the Juke’s quirks – of which more detail in a later update – but so far the car is proving a worthy companion for both town life and longer journeys.
*Smooth engine *Delightful to have such a refined engine after months in a Jimny.
*Low-rev recalcitrance *Stalling never becomes less embarrassing, does it?
*Back to the top*
*Welcoming the Juke to the fleet - 1 April 2020*
Is there a car more polarising than the Nissan Juke? Maybe. But there’s no denying it’s a love-or-hate kind of car.
It’s one that’s done Nissan no harm, though, with the brand having sold more than one million Jukes since launching the innovative model in 2010. Despite the arrival of no less than 21 rivals in the interim, Nissan will be hoping that this second-generation model – our latest long-termer – is able to emulate the original’s best-selling year, during which it tipped the 100,000 sales barrier.
In the early days of this latest Juke’s development, Nissan designers wondered how far to deviate from the first-generation car. Nissan Europe design boss Matt Weaver told Autocar late last year: “In the early days [of work on the second generation], some designs were unrecognisable. We were wondering whether we should Juke the Juke [ie design another radical car] and come with a completely different angle, but there was so much material from the first generation that we could improve, that’s the way we felt it should go.”
It definitely looks like a Juke, then, with elements including the quad headlights, ‘V-motion’ grille and sloping coupé roofline carried over. But divisive exterior looks aside, the biggest bugbears with the old Juke concerned the interior – particularly the overall quality and rear space.
Talking about the new car, Weaver said: “As designers, we always try and make cars super-dynamic, but with this car we wanted to increase usability – luggage and rear occupant space – so it’s about balancing that sporty, agile look with increasing usability.” On the interior, he added: “It’s jumped quite a few levels up. The first gen was quite playful. In this one, it’s much more refined and mature, with a high quality of materials.”
The new Juke is built on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-B platform, also used for the new Renault Captur and Clio. As a result, the Juke measures 4210mm long, 1595mm tall and 1800mm wide, making it 85mm longer and 170mm wider than the previous model but 30mm lower. The wheelbase is also 105mm longer than before.
Nissan says knee room in the rear has been extended by 58mm and the boot is 422 litres, substantially up from the 354 litres of the previous model and only eight less than the Nissan Qashqai’s luggage space.
For interior comfort, ‘monoform’ seats – like those in the latest Qashqai – are standard and can be specified with Alcantara or leather upholstery. There are better-quality plastics, too. These were a necessity given that rivals now include the Seat Arona and Skoda Karoq, both of which come with excellent (if unexciting) Volkswagen Group interiors.
Our Juke uses a 115bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that’s taken from the Nissan Micra and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Not that there’s any choice: the 1.0 DIG-T unit is the only powertrain currently available on the Juke, although more are anticipated, including a plug-in hybrid variant. Don’t expect a fully electric version. A seven-speed automatic is an option, but 60% of buyers opt for the manual.
We’ve gone for the mid-range Tekna trim, which makes up a third of sales. It adds £5100 to the cost of the entry-level Juke Visia but includes so much equipment that it’s hard to think what else you would need.
Highlights include a 360deg camera, eight Bose speakers, sat-nav, privacy glass and very kerbable 19in alloy wheels. There’s also a host of driver assist systems including emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blindspot intervention and traffic sign recognition.
Our only option is the £1145 twotone pack, which brings metallic rust paint and black roof and mirrors. It’s a feature that a third of buyers choose and, in my opinion, shows the Juke’s styling in its best light. We recently gave the Juke the full road test treatment, in which we acknowledged that the new car has “mellowed and matured agreeably enough” and has “gained some practicality and good manners to address the most conspicuous vulnerabilities of the original version”. Its 3.5-star rating puts it behind rivals including the Ford Puma, VW T-Cross and Seat Arona.
Now my job is to see how it fares in day-to-day life. Will passengers young and old be comfortable in the back? Is the extra boot space usable? Will the infotainment system hold its own against strong competition?
In my first few journeys around town and on the motorway, the Juke has been a pleasant enough place to be. Over the coming months, though, I’ll be setting the Juke sterner challenges in order to prove itself as a take-anywhere daily driver.
It has been a busy few months for new crossover hatchbacks but, among the arrivals we’ve seen since the Juke road test (Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Ford Puma), it’s only the Ford I would definitely choose over it. I like the Juke’s visual attitude but also appreciate how much more practical it has become – and missing out on the Captur’s four-pot turbo engines may not be a great loss.
*Back to the top*
-Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG -T 117 TEKNA specification-
*Prices: List price new* £22,495 *List price now* £22,960 *Price as tested* £23,640 *Dealer value now* £18,915 *Private value now* £16,814 *Trade value now* £16090 (part exchange)
*Options:*Two Tone Fuji Sunset Red paint with Pearl Black roof, mirrors and shark’s fin antenna £1145
*Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy* 46.3mpg *Fuel tank* 46 litres *Test average* 40.3mpg *Test best* 43.2mpg *Test worst* 36.5mpg *Real-world range* 407 miles
*Tech highlights: 0-62mph* 10.4sec *Top speed* 112mph *Engine* 3 cyls, 999cc, turbocharged petrol *Max power* 115bhp at 5250rpm *Max torque* 133lb ft at 1750-3750rpm *Transmission* 6-speed manual *Boot capacity* 422 litres *Wheels* 7.5Jx19, alloy *Tyres* 225/45 R19 *Kerb weight* 1199kg
*Service and running costs: Contract hire rate* £258.29 *CO2* 141g/km *Service costs* none *Other costs* none *Fuel costs* £511.03 *Running costs inc fuel* £511.03 *Cost per mile* 13 pence *Depreciation* £6405 *Cost per mile inc dep’n* £1.73 *Faults* None
*Back to the top*