Given the success of the Nissan Qashqai, it was only a matter of time before the Japanese company came up with a crossover for the supermini market. The Juke is it, the extrovertly styled crossover mixing coupé and SUV lines in a supermini-sized package that should be keenly priced, too.
In the Metal
You're unlikely to sit on the fence about the Juke. You'll either love it or hate it. We're convinced; the Juke's riotous lines and quirky lights front and rear certainly give it presence. The bold wheelarches, rakish roofline and big alloy wheels make it look like nothing else. Inside it's not quite as wild, if still attractive. Pity it feels a bit low rent in places thanks to the use of hard plastics. Standing out from the supermini norm it's not going to appeal to everyone, but then that's perhaps the point.
What you get for your Money
Nissan Ireland has not yet announced pricing, but going on what other European models are doing, even the entry-level model should be pretty decently specified. The basics, including air conditioning, alloy wheels, six airbags, ABS with EBD and ESP are likely to all be included. Add a little more and you get desirable extras like larger alloy wheels, Bluetooth telephony, climate control and Nissan's Dynamic Control System - this altering steering, throttle and gearshift (if you've gone for the CVT automatic) settings to sportier or more economical preferences.
For a relatively tall car the Nissan Juke corners with surprising eagerness; body roll is reasonably well contained and the steering is quick enough - if not the last word in feel. Three engine choices are on offer: the turbodiesel 1.5-litre making the Juke an easy, lolloping cruiser and the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 190hp giving it decent pace - which the chassis is more than capable of coping with. The 117hp 1.6-litre petrol version wasn't available to sample. It's likely to suffer due to its relative shortfall in torque compared to the other two models.
On the road, the Juke is an easy, unfussy drive, the suspension coping easily with the smooth roads on the German test route. It might feel less impressive on Irish roads, especially with the larger 17-inch wheels fitted on the Acenta model and upwards. The driving position is good and the gearstick well positioned - though lacking real precision in its shift: it's rather vague across its gate. Refinement is decent though, with high speed cruising largely devoid of wind and road noise. The diesel is relatively quiet, though it's not the smoothest at times with the power delivery sometimes interrupted by a slight jerkiness.
It's around town that the Juke makes most sense though, where its high driving position and easy to place extremities make it a cinch in traffic. All in it feels much like a tall supermini, which is exactly what it is really. The single range-topping four-wheel drive models get torque vectoring, which uses engine torque distribution to the rear wheels to increase agility. Really though you'll want for little behind the wheel in the standard, front-wheel drive models, which are entertaining enough and significantly cheaper.
The Juke might have some trick kit on it, but Nissan seems to have missed an opportunity to maximise its green credentials. There's no stop-start, while CO2 emissions and economy are only in the acceptable, rather than impressive range.
The Dynamic Control System may offer some driver adjustability, but the controls are a bit fussy and positioned low in the centre console, while the display is virtually unreadable in sunlight or if you've got the lights on during the day.
The Juke does not represent a new genre for Nissan; instead the Japanese company is introducing a proven formula into a new marketplace. It's likely to be successful too, as on looks alone the Juke is certain to appeal. That it's a competent, decently specified car only adds to it chances, giving buyers a genuinely alternative choice in the supermini marketplace. It arrives in Ireland this September.