Review: Nissan Juke (2020)

Rating:

Much improved over original Juke with more passenger space, a bigger boot and a more upmarket interior. Easy to drive in town and good handling. Well equipped for the money.

Ride on the firm side, even with smaller wheels. Infotainment system could be better.

Nissan Juke (2020): At A Glance

The original Juke may not have been without its shortcomings, yet it sold like hot cakes on a cold day. In fact there are more than a quarter of a million on UK roads but while the Juke may have had the market pretty much to itself, the last few years have seen dozens of competitors enter the fray. Time for the second generation Juke to up its game then.

Nissan hasn't done anything radical with the Juke - but then it didn't need to. Instead it has listened to existing owners and highlighted what needed improving.

Some things were obvious. Owner's wanted more passenger space, a better boot and modern technology yet Nissan was keen to tie this into the key reasons people bought a Juke - namely its distinctive looks and the fact it was fun to drive.

The result is an accomplished crossover that feels more grown up than its predecessor, yet is still compact and agile, making it ideal for the urban grind. It's fractionally longer and wider than before but the biggest change is a longer wheelbase and this means much better rear legroom while the boot is 20 per cent bigger at 422 litres. 

It shares a platform with the latest Renault Clio and Captur, but the Juke has been developed and engineered by Nissan in the UK. Helped by a stiffer body, it handles very well with quick and responsive steering, making it pretty enjoyable to drive. Our main criticism here is that the ride is firmer than we'd like, even on smaller wheels. 

Inside there are big changes from the old model, most notably in terms of the material quality and finish, plus it gets a much improved infotainment system with a big, bright touchscreen plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Just one engine is available, a 1.0 DIG-T petrol. The three-cylinder unit has 117PS and gets a six-speed manual with the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch DCT automatic, replacing the old CVT. The engine provides reasonable performance, but lacks the character and zest of other small petrols such as Volkswagen's 1.0 TSI.

There's lots to like about this Juke. It has more space, a higher quality interior and handles well. With prices starting at less than £17,500 it's competitive too and comes with plenty of kit as standard. Having addressed the shortcomings of the old model yet kept it distinctively styled, this Juke is a very impressive crossover and we have no doubt it will find many fans. But the competition out there is very strong and we think others, such as the Volkswagen T-Cross, are better all rounders.

Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 2019 Road Test

What does a Nissan Juke (2020) cost?

List Price from £15,200
Buy new from £12,692
Contract hire from £166.39 per month
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Nissan Juke (2020): What's It Like Inside?

Thanks to a longer wheelbase, the Juke has more cabin space than the old model. This is most noticeable in the back, where despite still being quite gloomy, there's much better leg room.

Not only is this good for taller teens, but crucially means more space for a rear facing car seat. Head room is better and it means a six-footer can just about sit in the back - behind another adult - without feeling hemmed in, but it's still on the tight side. 

The boot is far bigger and more useable than the old model too. There's now 422 litres of space (up from 354 litres) which is not far short of a Qashqai while the opening is considerably wider, making it much easier to get things like pushchairs in. There's also an adjustable boot floor, so you can hide odds and ends below.

But perhaps the most significant change is in the quality of the interior. Gone are the hard plastics, replaced by a much more upmarket cabin that feels far more plush. It's better than most other small crossovers in this respect and the quality of the finish is excellent. Storage is about average with decent door pockets and a cubby under the central armrest.

The other small but significant change is the addition of reach adjustment in the steering. It makes it much easier (especially for taller drivers) to get comfortable behind the wheel. The driving position has that nice lofty crossover feel and there's good forward visibility. The same can't be said for the view out of the back, the thick rear pillars hamper that, but all models bar the Visia come with a rear camera. 

The old Nissan infotainment has also been replaced with a much improved system. Entry level Visia models get a basic layout with a monochrome screen, but it does at least have Bluetooth, DAB and a USB port. 

All other models get the new 8-inch touchscreen which has a much clearer and user-friendly display compared to the old model. That said, it's still not perfect. The graphics aren't the sharpest and it isn't that responsive - the system you find in a Volkswagen, SEAT or Skoda is far better. However, it does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you rarely need to use the system itself.

Standard equipment from launch:

Visia 

 

Child seats that fit a Nissan Juke (2020)

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What's the Nissan Juke (2020) like to drive?

The second generation Nissan Juke may be the first car ever designed to 'nail the roundabout' - in Nissan's words. Developed on the roads around Milton Keynes, the roundabout capital of the UK, one of the key things for the Juke was its ability to tackle that most British of things - the humble roundabout.

It's helped by a longer wheelbase and a more rigid body structure, while the whole car is 20kg lighter than before. The result is a car that corners really well with plenty of grip and little in the way of lean. The steering is noticeably quicker and Nissan has fitted what it calls Active Trace Control which slightly brakes the inside wheel in a corner, which means less steering input is needed in a bend.

Nissan talks a lot about making the Juke 'fun to drive' and to a certain extent it has succeeded. The handling is a cut above many crossovers and you can happily take a corner with gusto. However, the trade off here seems to be the ride quality which is certainly on the firm side. On uneven roads and poor surfaces, the Juke can bounce and fidget more than you'd expect. Oddly, this seems to be the case whatever size wheel you choose.

There's also a fair amount of wind noise on the move, although that said, vibrations from the road are well insulated so at least the Juke doesn't crash along. 

While it undoubtedly handles well, we wouldn't say the Juke is as engaging as something like a SEAT Arona. Much of that is down to the engine though. Nissan has followed the path of downsizing, replacing the old 1.6-litre petrol with a new turbocharged 1.0-litre unit, the DIG-T.

The three-cylinder engine looks strong enough on paper with 117PS and 180Nm of torque (200Nm on overboost), but in reality it lacks the get up and go of other small turbo engines. Whereas the likes of Volkswagen's TSI and Peugeot's Puretech engines have plenty of character, the Nissan unit feels a bit ordinary. 

Opt for the new dual clutch DCT auto and the whole thing feels distinctly sluggish. The shifts are smooth and quick enough but it doesn't prevent the Juke from feeling underpowered, especially noticeable when joining a fast flowing dual carriageway for example. For this reason we'd suggest sticking with the standard manual. It has a positive shift and works far better with DIG-T engine.

Official fuel economy looks good with the manual returning a claimed 46 to 48mpg (under the stricter WLTP test) while there's not much penalty if you go for the automatic, which officially cover 44 to 46mpg.

What have we been asked about the Nissan Juke (2020)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best small SUV?

Although I love my Nissan Qashqai my wife would prefer a slightly smaller SUV. The car must be an automatic and as comfortable as the Qashqai with similar performance. What do you recommend please?
I'd recommend the latest Nissan Juke. It's much better than the old model and available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Alternatively, consider a Skoda Kamiq or Volkswagen T-Cross - both excellent crossover SUVs.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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