Nissan Juke Review
The Nissan Juke is good to drive, more spacious than before and higher-tech. There are more practical small SUVs if you’re happy with more conservative looks, mind.
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The Nissan Juke is a stylish small SUV that seats five. It’s like some of the more outlandish creations you see on the catwalk at a fashion show – if you like how it looks you’ll put up with the compromises.
So you buy a Nissan Juke with your heart, but your head will now be more satisfied, because this all-new Juke has been updated and now gets more space for passengers, a bigger boot and new infotainment. The question is… is the Nissan Juke is good enough to tempt you away from other (more soberly styled) small SUVs such as the Skoda Kamiq and Volkswagen T-Cross?
The new Nissan Juke combines the looks of an SUV and a coupe – just like the old model – and still has signature touches such as bold circular headlights. However, it now has Y-shaped LED running lights and Nissan’s distinctive V-motion grille seen elsewhere in its range. There are also new wheel designs, a contrast-colour roof and lots more exterior paint colour choices.
Inside the Nissan Juke’s cabin is more upmarket and offers far more opportunities to personalise it to your taste. There’s also a new infotainment system made up of an 8-inch touchscreen and menu shortcut buttons (on all but entry-level cars), and comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even Google Assistant. It’s a marked improvement on what went before, but Skoda and VW still have the edge with their more intuitive systems.
The previous Nissan Juke was a car reviewer’s nightmare - it wasn't great but sold like hotcakes regardless, helped by its quirky looks. This new car is a huge improvement.
Like the old model, two adults will be fine in the front seats and there’s just about enough space behind for two more – providing they aren’t over six-feet tall. The new Nissan Juke has a bigger boot than the old model too, but a VW T-Cross is roomier.
There’s just one engine for now: a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol with 117hp. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but you can fork out for a slick seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There’s no option to add all-wheel drive.
The Nissan Juke’s engine feels strong enough around town but does feel a little laboured when sprinting down motorway slip roads and overtaking at higher speeds. There are three driving modes (Eco, Standard and Sport) and the Juke feels liveliest in the latter, although you’d never call it quick, or sporty.
The Juke also feels pretty stiff over lumps and bumps in town, especially when fitted with the range-largest 19-inch wheels. Things do get better on the motorway, but a Toyota C-HR is still more relaxing to travel in for long periods.
All-in-all the Nissan Juke has come on leaps and bounds. It’s more spacious, more practical, better to drive and higher quality than the original. We still think you should try a VW T-Cross or Skoda Kamiq first, but if you place looks before luggage space the Juke has to be near the top of your small SUV list.
If that’s you, check out our deals pages for the very best Nissan Juke prices.
The old Nissan Juke was really quite poor in the back and boot, but this new car is much improved on both counts. Still, if space is most important, other SUVs do it even better.
Two adults will have no issues with the space on offer around the front seats and Nissan’s new Monoform seats themselves are extremely comfortable. The driver gets lots of adjustment at the driver’s seat and steering wheel, too.
However, the old Juke was fine in the front – it was the rear seats where it really struggled to keep another couple of adults comfortable. The new model is longer between its front and rear wheels and so rear knee room is dramatically improved, but anyone over six-foot tall will still brush their head against the roof.
You can forget about carrying three adults in the back, too. Sure, there’s a decent amount of space for everyone’s feet, but the Nissan Juke’s relatively narrow body means there isn’t enough shoulder room to go round. Both a VW T-Cross and Skoda Kamiq are better at seating adults in their rear seats.
Younger passengers won’t appreciate the Nissan Juke’s fairly small windows and the raised door sills that limit their view out, and you’ll have to slide the front seat forward to fit a bulky rear-facing child seat in the back.
There isn’t enough space left between two child seats to carry an extra passenger in the middle, but you can get a set of Isofix anchor points on the front passenger seat in high-spec models to free up some space in the back.
The Juke’s storage solutions aren’t fantastic. The front door bins and cupholder are just about big enough for a large bottle and there’s space for your phone in a dedicated slot under the dashboard, but most of the space in the rather small glovebox is taken up by the owner’s manual and the cubby beneath the front armrest is too narrow to be useful.
In the back, the door bins are a little tighter and the rear seat pockets aren’t particularly accommodating or sturdy. There isn’t the option to add a central rear armrest, either, so you don’t get any cup holders for those in the back seats.
The Nissan Juke has 422 litres of boot space – that’s slightly more than either a Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Cross. It also comes with a handy adjustable boot floor that’s easy to manipulate up and down, although in its lower setting it does leave a fairly large lip for you to lift heavy bags over. With it raised, however, there’s enough space underneath to store the parcel shelf – should you ever need to remove it.
It’s worth noting, though, that you can’t get the Nissan Juke with sliding seats, such as those that come as standard in the T-Cross. The T-Cross’s squarer boot opening also provides slightly better access and makes it easier to pack full of large boxes than the Nissan Juke’s load bay.
However, the Juke’s boot will easily handle a couple of large suitcases, a pushchair or a set of golf clubs and the standard 60:40 split-folding rear seats lie almost flat if you need to throw in a bike or haul a load to the local tip. It’s a bit annoying that you don’t get many shopping hooks or tether points to help you tie-down all these items, though.
The Nissan Juke is reassuring to drive and its engine is smooth and quiet, but it’s far from exciting and buyers might be disappointed with the lack of engine choice.
Nissan is offering just one engine for now: a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol with 117hp. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, or pay extra and you can have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. There’s no option to add all-wheel drive, but that’s not uncommon on small SUVs such as the Juke.
The Juke’s engine is strong enough around town but does feel a bit sluggish when you accelerate up to motorway speeds or overtake slow-moving traffic. There are three driving modes (Eco, Standard and Sport) and the Juke feels liveliest in the latter, although you’d never call is quick.
However, don’t rule out a Nissan Juke Nismo – a hot version of the Juke – joining the range at a later date, although this has yet to be confirmed.
At least the manual gearbox is positioned nicely for the driver and is great to use so it’s easy to get the most you can from the Juke’s engine. The automatic ’box dulls performance slightly but is the more relaxing to drive given its slick gear changes in auto mode, so it’s well worth considering if you do lots of driving in town. Changing gears manually via the Juke’s paddles is less snappy and the auto can cause the Juke to dither at stationary junctions as it hooks up and moves off.
Fuel economy barely changes between gearboxes – Nissan says you can expect around 47mpg from the manual version or 46mpg from the auto, which are impressive figures.
The Nissan Juke’s wheels vary from 16-inch steel items on entry-level cars and huge 19-inch alloy jobs on the range-topping cars. The latter feels especially firm over potholes, but all Jukes come with rather stiff suspension that tends to highlight bumps rather than iron them out. If it’s a very comfortable small SUV you’re after, then you’ll be better off with a Toyota C-HR.
The Juke’s driving position is slightly higher than that in normal small hatchbacks, but its butch front styling means the driver actually sits quite low in the car relative to its dashboard and bonnet. It’s possible to ratchet up the seat of course, but visibility beyond the bonnet is still slightly restricted.
The same can be said out of the back because the Juke’s pinched rear styling means it has large pillars and a small screen at the rear. However, Acenta cars and above get a reversing view camera and from Tekna trim the Juke comes with a handy 360-degree parking camera, so you won’t have much trouble squeezing into a tight parking space.
There are three driving modes (Eco, Standard and Sport) and selecting the latter brings heavier steering that feels a bit unnatural, but also a more responsive throttle and snappier gear change on auto models. All-told, the Juke grips well, but it doesn’t feel as eager to change direction as some alternatives.
You’re better off sitting back and enjoying the Juke’s more comfortable ride and hushed cabin on the motorway rather than thrashing it about. From Acenta trim Nissan also includes its Pro Pilot technology which will adjust your speed and steer to keep you in your lane in manual models, and actually stop and start you in traffic too if you have the auto ’box fitted.
All Jukes come with an advanced automatic emergency braking system which recognises cars, pedestrians and cyclists as well as lane-departure warning and traffic-sign recognition. Models higher up the range come with features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Juke’s interior looks and feels good quality, but although its infotainment system is much better than the previous model’s, it isn’t as easy to use as in some alternatives.