The Nissan Juke has certainly been a success story. Since the first model was launched in 2010, UK sales of the British-built Juke have topped 340,000 over two generations.
In terms of critical appeal, the results have been more mixed. The current second-generation model holds an Expert Rating of 65%, which is in the top half of its class but a long way behind the class-leading Ford Puma. It is, however, a significant improvement over the original Juke, which finished its production run with a very poor Expert Rating of less than 50%.
Meanwhile Nissan has built a reputation over the last decade for its move into electric vehicles (EVs) with the well-received Leaf. So perhaps it’s a surprise that Juke and some sort of electrification have not previously been combined.
Well now that has been put right – sort of. The vehicle here is not a full-electric Juke, but a hybrid. And perhaps it’s not surprising, given Nissan’s propensity to carve its own path, that this is no typical hybrid. If you are used to the kind of petrol-electric motoring provided by, say, a Toyota Prius or a Honda CR-V, then you will find driving the Juke a whole new experience.
What’s new about the Nissan Juke Hybrid?
The clue is in the title – there are slight visual tweaks, new alloy wheels, new paint shades and a couple of equipment upgrades that extend to keyless entry and a better Bose sound system with an extra pair of speakers. But the whole point of this car is its engine, a petrol-electric hybrid unit promising more pace for less fuel and fewer emissions too.
How does it look?
The Juke Hybrid looks mostly just like any other Juke. When the current second-generation version was launched in 2019 it offered rather smoothed-out styling compared to its predecessor, the visuals of which had divided opinion.
The car gets the latest iteration of the Nissan logo design on its badge, and this sits on a grille mesh that has also been redesigned – subtle ‘Hybrid’ badges are also dotted about the car. The new colour schemes are dubbed ‘Magnetic Blue’ – chosen as the hybrid launch colour – and ‘Ceramic Grey’.
Both the 17-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels get new design options too. The larger wheels fill the arches better from a visual point of view but one would expect a less compliant ride from such big rims – but hold that thought…
What’s the spec like?
The overall Juke range has five trim levels, but hybrid models are only available in the top three. You will need £27,250 for an N-Connecta, which is £1,730 more than a petrol-engined variant with an automatic transmission (nearest equivalent to the hybrid) and £3,230 more than cars with the five-speed manual gearbox.
Equipment at N-Connecta level includes Nissan’s Connect navigation system (offeringTom Tom traffic alerts and a suite of phone app-based services such as finding where you parking it and remotely locking your doors), keyless entry, leather on the steering wheel and gear knob, automatic climate control and auto wipers.
Pay another £1,500 for the Tekna and the alloys grow to 19 inches while additions include LED front lights and a heated screen and front seats, plus that Bose sound system with ten speakers instead of the previous eight. But perhaps the most important Tekna element is the Advanced Safety Shield Pack, a range of active safety measures including intelligent cruise control, blind spot intervention, a rear cross-traffic alert and the clever monitor that gives a view around all sides of the car. The Juke, by the way, was last crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2019, earning a top five-star rating.
Range-topper is the Tekna+, another £1,400 buying a different design of 19-inch alloys and a suite of personalisation options outside and inside, including two-tone metallic paint.
What’s the Nissan Juke Hybrid like inside?
If you have driven the current Juke in normal petrol form then you won’t notice anything different on stepping into this one, except directly ahead of the driver. A new digital display sees the rev counter make way for a dial showing when the car is at power, in ‘eco’ cruising mode or charging the battery. And pressing a button brings up an ‘energy flow monitor’, giving a visual representation of which way power is flowing between engine, battery and wheels at any one time.
Otherwise, it’s all the same as before. The driver’s controls are reasonably intuitive while the finish and the surfaces are adequate, if not up to the level of rivals from the likes of Volkswagen. It’s relatively roomy for a smaller SUV, if a bit cosy from three adults in the back. And note, too, that the need to accommodate the hybrid battery does cut the boot space, from 422 to 354 litres.
What’s under the bonnet?
This is where the new Juke gets interesting. Its hybrid drivetrain was first seen in the Captur E-Tech from sister brand Renault. A more compact 1.6-litre petrol engine is combined with an electric motor, while there is a second and smaller electric motor that synchronises the gears in the highly clever gearbox.
We are told that the electronics in control of everything were developed using Renault’s experience gained in Formula One racing. These decide when the petrol engine, electric motor or both should either be contributing to the drive or recharging the battery.
If you are interested in the technical stuff, we have a separate deep dive into that, but the effect is to produce a hybrid car that feels much more like a full battery-electric vehicle to drive – the system tries to drive on electric power alone as much as possible and Nissan’s tech types claim to have achieved 80% of a drive on electric around an urban route.
While doing this, the drivetrain offers more power – 154hp compared to the 114hp of a normal petrol Juke, which takes 1.7 seconds off the 0-62mph time – alongside a promise of improved fuel economy and emissions. We don’t have official government figures yet, but compared to the petrol Juke with auto gearbox Nissan predicts around 10mpg in fuel economy improvements and as much as a 25g/km cut in CO2 emissions.
What’s the Nissan Juke Hybrid like to drive?
A normal hybrid starts in silence, moves away on the electric motor and then very quickly the petrol engine audibly cuts in – travel is then typically obviously on the engine with short bursts of electricity, usually at slow speeds.
The Juke Hybrid also starts and moves away in silence on its electric motor, but the only way of telling when the engine joins in is to watch the energy monitor on the dash – it’s really that smooth. Thereafter the three elements, engine, motor and battery, work together, but you can never tell which is doing what, or when.
It’s reasonably potent, more so than the stock petrol model, though there does seem to be a very slight delay when one kicks down for rapid acceleration. But then it gains speed strongly with invisible gear changes.
An interesting addition is the ‘E-Pedal’. Activated by a button between the front seats, it effectively increases the battery regeneration that occurs when decelerating by applying moderate braking as soon as one’s foot is taken off the accelerator – leave it alone and it will bring the car to a halt. If you are a smooth driver and not a power-brake-power merchant, it becomes quite easy to drive the Juke as a one-pedal car, only using the brake if you need to stop suddenly.
The Juke has never been known as a sporty handling car for the open road, with city streets being its more natural environment. The Hybrid does nothing to change that, with handling that’s competent without being involving.
Ride quality with the cars on the launch event proved slightly odd – driving first with 17-inch wheels we found the ride quite stiff with road imperfections felt in the cabin, which had us not looking forward to trying the 19-inch rims as typically the larger diameter means the less compliant the ride. Yet the bigger-wheeled Juke seemed more composed and a preferable option.
The Nissan Juke remains a popular contender in an ever-more crowded market and this new hybrid version will presumably help it maintain that place. If you find driving a traditional hybrid slightly odd and unpredictable, this one is less so. Should you be keen to go electric but less keen on the price or having to plug your car in and recharge it, then you may well find this car to your liking.
The price is more than a stock Juke, but not so much, especially compared to the auto variant. Combined with the estimated 10mpg improvement in average fuel consumption – especially with current perol prices – and you could find yourself recouping the extra spend fairly quickly.
If you are looking at the Nissan Juke Hybrid, you might also be interested in these alternatives
Citroën C3 Aircross | Dacia Duster | Fiat 500X | Ford Puma | Honda HR-V | Hyundai Kona | Jeep Renegade | Kia Stonic | MG ZS | Peugeot 2008 | Renault Captur | SEAT Arona | Skoda Kamiq | SsangYong Tivoli | Toyota Yaris Cross | Suzuki Vitara | Vauxhall Crossland | Vauxhall Mokka | Volkswagen T-Cross | Volkswagen T-Roc
Model tested: Nissan Juke Hybrid Tekna
Price (as tested): £29,895
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol plus electric motor
Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
Power: 143 hp
Torque: 205 Nm
Top speed: 103 mph
0-60 mph: 10.1 seconds