New car review

Nissan Juke test drive

Nissan’s popular Juke crossover is back for a second generation — but can it be as popular as the first?

There’s that old cliché about a difficult second album. If your first one is a colossal hit, there are big shoes to fill when it comes to that follow-up.

What once may have been a revolutionary new approach may now be the norm or even old news when the time comes for that sequel, with the world moving on and tastes changing. It’s possible to overcome, of course. Take a look at Nirvana’s Nevermind for example — the band’s successor to its incredible Bleach — becoming the band’s most acclaimed and successful record.

Which brings us to the new Nissan Juke — the follow-up to the car that started off the now-booming crossover segment. Once in a class of its own, the market is now flooded with contenders — but can the new Juke still rise to the top? We find out…

2020 Nissan Juke red and white | The Car Expert

What’s new about the new Nissan Juke?

Nissan had the mega first hit on its hands with the original Juke — selling over 1.5 million of them from its 2010 introduction to it just coming off the forecourts. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see evolution rather than revolution here.

The most obvious case of that is in the new Juke’s design. Though it takes on a bit more of a modern and grown-up look than before, it still has the familiar separate headlamps that give it a distinctive beady-eyed look, while the overall silhouette is retained too.

A new chassis is said to improve drivability, though probably more appealing to buyers is the fact it increases boot and cabin space on the old car too — though we’ll come to that.

How does it look?

If there’s one thing the original Nissan Juke was known for, it’s how polarizing its design was. With that in mind, it would have been easy for the firm to take a safer route with the aesthetic and go for a more conventional look.

  • 2019 Nissan Juke review – front view | The Car Expert
  • 2019 Nissan Juke review – rear view | The Car Expert

Instead, though, it’s opted to evolve the opinion-dividing visuals. It’s immediately recognisable as a Juke thanks to its large, low-set headlights and thin daytime runners up to — though these now flank Nissan’s corporate v-styled grille. At the back, the boomerang-esque lights have been swapped out for more conventional, boxy units to bring it in line with the rest of its model range — though we think this is no bad thing.

Though it does retain the general Juke look, the more modern take is smoother and more sophisticated than its predecessor. The result is still distinctive but less likely to split opinion than before.

What’s the spec like?

Pricing for the new Nissan Juke kicks off at £17,395, securing a Visia model. Kit thrown in as standard includes 16-inch steel wheels, LED headlights and a comprehensive safety package including autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, high beam assist, hill start assist and lane keep assistance.

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We’re behind the wheel of the Juke in high-spec Tekna+ form, which is available from £25,295. Additional extras here include 19-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, a Bose sound system (including headrest-integrated speakers on both front seats) as well as Nissan’s suite of ProPilot semi-autonomous technology.

We’ll have to wait a while before the new Nissan Juke is put through the rigorous Euro NCAP crash testing regime, but we’ll keep you posted.

What’s the Nissan Juke like inside?

One of the biggest changes to the new-generation Nissan Juke comes in its size, with growth in length, width and height. This naturally leads to more room in the cabin, with its improved space immediately apparent.

Both driver and passenger will find it to be more spacious than before, which is something that definitely needed to be improved upon, while those in the back will be that bit comfier too. Getting three full-sized adults in the back is still going to be a struggle, but for a small family car, it does the trick.

  • 2019 Nissan Juke review – interior and dashboard | The Car Expert
  • 2019 Nissan Juke review – front seats with Bose speakers | The Car Expert

Materials throughout the cabin are improved upon too, with faux leather trimmings working to give a more premium feel to the car. Hard scratchy plastics are still to be found, but they’re certainly less apparent before and crucially compared with most rivals.

As for boot space, the new Juke offers 422 litres, a hefty increase of over its predecessor’s 354 litres.

What’s under the bonnet?

At its launch, Nissan is offering just one engine option for the new Juke. It’s a 1.0-litre, turbocharged petrol unit producing 115hp and 180Nm (up to 200Nm in its self-controlled ‘over boost’ mode), with power sent to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

It’s the former configuration we’re driving here, resulting in a 0-60mph time of 10.2 seconds with a 112mph top speed possible. As for efficiency, Nissan claims it will return up to 47.9mpg in mixed driving conditions with CO2 emissions weighing in at 112-118g/km.

Faults with the setup are pretty minimal. Power delivery is adequate, and torque comes in pretty smoothly across the rev range, though it’s certainly no performance car and those wanting a bit more grunt should hold out for the probability of a more powerful engine down the line.

What’s the Nissan Juke like to drive?

Nissan claims the Juke is more fun to drive than its predecessor, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is some bona fide sports machine. This is still a car best at home in the city centre.

  • 2019 Nissan Juke road test – front | The Car Expert
  • 2019 Nissan Juke road test – rear | The Car Expert

Steering is lightly-weighted which is great for navigating around tight streets, parking easily and generally not being irritating to live with on a daily basis. For most buyers, this is probably enough — though those coming into this with an engaging drive might want to look elsewhere.

There’s a feeling of disconnect between the road and car when pressing on, so tearing up a back road isn’t really a possibility here. It’s not perfect on a motorway either with a bouncy ride and notable wind noise compromising on refinement, though it’s livable for shorter trips.

Verdict

Nissan has done pretty well with this second generation of the Juke, though its existence in a market of many rather than one means this may not be quite the mega-hit of its predecessor.

It’s still likely to sell in droves though — particularly with current owners and fans of the original. The car is better in all areas than its predecessor, crucially on space, and it squares up well to newer rivals.

Those wanting something of a connection between car and road in their compact crossover will have to look elsewhere, but this is a car that’s bound for the city and it ticks the urban boxes well.

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Key specifications

Model as tested: Nissan Juke Tekna+
Price (on-road): £25,295
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Power: 115 hp
Torque: 170 Nm
Top speed: 112 mph
0-60mph: 10.2 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 47.9 mph
CO2 emissions: 112-118 g/km

Ryan Hirons
Ryan Hirons
Articles by Ryan Hirons are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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