I’ve definitely got more set in my ways over the past few years - These days there frequently seems to be just one way and that’s the only way. If it’s not so it never will be. And so it follows…..If I’ve decided the Nissan Juke’s going to be rubbish, then I don’t need to bother driving one. But then the other day I had to. Hiding in the corner of the drive it was the first set of keys on the peg, and I was only going to catch the last post. How bad could it be?
My Jukeophobia began with its styling when it launched - We all know about the car’s rather odd nose - The toad like gape of the grill and beady eyed headlights, but the Juke also has a rather odd stance caused by the back sloping away. I’ve never been one for convention but it’s just always seemed impossible to believe the results were entirely style with a not so much as a lick of substance - Oh how wrong I’ve been.
I realised something wasn’t quite right with my long held presumptions the moment I sat in the driver’s seat. After a few seconds finding my favourite spot, meaning seat and steering wheel as low as it can go, any memory of the noise the door made when I shut it was knocked to the back of my head with the words “Ooh, hello….what’s going on 'ere then?”.
I know other motor noters and owners alike have complained about the driving position and and the lack of support offered by the Juke's seats, but for me at least, I’d managed to get the chair where I like it more quickly than in most other cars I've driven recently - And this is a big deal, because if you're not sat correctly it will affect your driving enjoyment as well as road safety.
My car had leather seats which to my mind at least offered fairly decent support in all the crucial areas, and the centre console is quite high up which puts the gearshift precisely where I like it.
This all gives the impression the Juke has sporting aspirations - Certainly it has the rear visibility of a lot of sports cars - Despite the amount of glass around the driver, reversing can be a tad difficult thanks to the sloping roof at the rear and the angle of the rear window and boot. It’s not impossible though, and parking sensors aren’t an expensive option when compared to the cost of painting a rear bumper.
Equipment levels are a little miserly except in the higher specced models, but there’s lots of interior space, loads of cubby holes and fold flat rear seats - Some of the plastics fail the squeeze test, in that they don't squeeze at all, but the interior certainly doesn’t feel cheap.
There’s a whole host of engines to choose from with the Juke. The 1.5 diesel does very well to the gallon, but it’s a bit slow for the car, there’s a 1.6 which lacks torque in pretty much any situation and there’s a fast Nismo version with either 190 or 218bhp. But the one I’d plump for is the 1.2 turbo petrol with 115bhp. 0-60 is 11 seconds, top speed’s 111mph, but it’ll do over 50mpg and close ratios in the first 3 gears and low down torque give it the feel of something quicker.
Bearing in mind the car’s jacked up ride height, I found the handling and steering remarkably crisp and manageable. The Juke isn’t a huge fan of cruising where it tends to skip around a bit, but it is relatively good fun on B roads. It’s never, ever going to set the world alight, but the Juke is a practical whilst also being a whole bag of fun for really not a lot of cash. Definitely worth considering if you like different.