What is it? The Nissan Juke, a supermini-cum-SUV-cum-coupe, if you believe the hype. This is the top-spec car, with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, four-wheel drive and a CVT gearbox. It costs £20,345. Technical highlights? The 1.6 DiG-T (direct injection, turbocharged) engine boasts 187bhp and 177lb ft of torque while achieving 37mpg and 175g/km. Some sources have rumoured that a similar engine will make an appearance in the next Renaultsport Clio. There’s also Nissan’s ‘All-Mode 4x4-i’ all-wheel-drive system, which gets lateral torque vectoring. As well as splitting torque front and rear, with up to 50 per cent being sent to the back wheels, the split can also be made side-to-side across the rear axle. By monitoring vehicle speed, wheel speed, gear position, steering angle, lateral G-forces and the car’s yaw rate, torque distribution to the outside rear wheel can be increased in corners to cut understeer and help the car round. Half of the engine’s total available torque can be sent to either rear wheel. What’s it like to drive? It’s good fun. While weighing the best part of a ton and a half, the Juke feels light on its feet, and the light but darty steering gives it similar responses to some of the best warm hatchbacks. The high ground clearance and light pedals mean it’s not dripping in feel and feedback, but there’s enough interaction to please most keen drivers. The four-wheel-drive system, while admirably clever on paper, seems unnecessary: a front-driven Juke we’ve driven with the same engine felt incredibly similar dynamically. That car also offers a six-speed manual gearbox; this 4wd model is hamstrung by its only transmission choice, a CVT automatic. While far from the worst example of its breed, the manual mode isn’t perfect and with the Juke’s gimmicky Dynamic Control System set to Sport, the car holds on to revs and greets you with that stereotypical CVT drone. With every other element feeling pretty good, you’re left crying for a simple manual. The engine is impressive, with plenty of torque where you need it and refinement when you want it, but again it feels a little suffocated by the gearbox. How does it compare? The Juke looks bigger than it actually is, and if you want something practical and SUV-like, this ain’t the car to come to. It feels more like a rival to the Mini Cooper, Alfa Romeo Mito, Citroen DS3 et al, selling on its looks and feel-good factor. And if you’re a fan of the former it provides plenty of the latter. Anything else I should know? While the most technically interesting and dynamically promising Juke of the lot, this is absolutely the range’s minority seller. Just three per cent of Jukes are expected to leave the showroom in this trim. The nearly £3K cheaper fwd manual 1.6 DiG-T is just as much fun and, by virtue of its superior gearbox, more likeable too.
|Engine||In-line 4cyl, 1618cc, turbo|
|Max power||187bhp @ 5600rpm|
|Max torque||177lb ft @ 2000-5200rpm|
|0-60||8.4sec (claimed 0-62)|