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Nissan Juke 1.6 turbo petrol review

Nissan's Juke takes the Qashqai crossover formula and applies it to a supermini with entertaining results.

Evo rating
  • A 187bhp supermini
  • Not quite a hot hatch

What is it?

The Juke is a tall, wide supermini-based ‘crossover’ from Nissan that mixes an SUV stance with sporty styling. Adding to the mixed influences is an interior that’s apparently been inspired by a motorcycle, meaning the Juke is quite unlike anything else out there. Three engines are offered, but only the new 187bhp turbo engine is of interest to us. Technical highlights 

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The 1.6-litre direct injection petrol engine comes with a low friction lightweight design turbocharger and intercooler with twin variable valve timing (on the intake and exhaust cycles) to improve low-end response. Dubbed DiG-T the 1.6-litre certainly punches above its low capacity, with smooth, quick response and an impressive 2,000-5,200rpm peak torque spread. Rumour has it that it'll eventually make its way into the next generation Renaultsport Clio. 

Despite SUV looks only this engine will be offered in four-wheel drive. The flagship 4x4 comes with torque vectoring - much like a 911 Turbo’s four-wheel drive hardware. You don’t need it - and it adds 0.4 seconds to the front-wheel drive’s 8.0 second 0-62mph time - but worst of all it’s attached to a CVT transmission. We’re driving the front-driver.

What’s it like to drive?

Some of the usual supermini verve has undeniably been lost in the Juke’s translation to a crossover model. It’s based on the same platform as the Micra and Renault Clio, so there should be some talent underneath its overt looks.

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The wide stance helps in the bends, while the suspension provides decent ride and capable handling. That ride might suffer a bit in the UK thanks to the large 17-inch alloy wheels, and inevitably gravity eventually gets the better of the body in tighter bends but the Juke is surprising fun on a twisty backroad. Just don’t expect any feel from the steering wheel or lightning fast shifts through the six-speed manual gearbox. The engine feels strong and free-revving though, goading you to drive it a bit faster.  

How does it compare?

To what exactly? The Juke’s pretty much on its own in the marketplace. Mini’s Countryman is similar in concept but differs a lot on price - the petrol DiG-T starting at £15,695. Compared to regular superminis and hot hatches it’s a bit more expensive, but good equipment levels and look-at-me styling offset the difference.

Anything else I need to know?

Nissan has added Nissan Dynamic Control System, which allows a choice between Normal, Sport and Eco driving modes - you’ll struggle to notice any difference despite claims of a retuned throttle map in Sport mode. It’s no hot hatch, but it’s not trying to be. It’s fun though, in a strange kind of way. 

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4cyl, 1618cc, turbocharged
Max power187bhp @ 5600rpm
Max torque177lb ft @ 2000-5200rpm
0-608.0sec (claimed 0-62mph)
Top speed133mph
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