The smallest offering in Nissan’s Crossover/SUV roster is the quirky and compact Juke. Never to be mistaken for any other car on the road, the Juke offers up unique styling and good handling for those who want something different looking to move them through city and urban settings. And the 2015 Juke is definitely different in a good way, even with those “love it or leave it” crocodile-esque headlamps. Personally, I like it…it’s different and gives the car character.
Bookended by Nissan’s “boomerang” shaped lights, the 2015 offering boasts new front and rear fascia’s, which gives this cute-ute a sportier look.
The body remains primarily unchanged…I mean, really, what else could you do to a first generation vehicle that would make it bolder than it already is?
The SV, SL and NISMO FWD trims are armed with a healthy 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque propelling you, the 1.6 litre, four cylinder CVT engine is a bit noisy out of the gate but once the Juke hits its stride, things quiet down. Need a solution? Crank up the Rockford Fosgate eco-Punch audio system complete with eight-inch subwoofer and amplifier…that oughtta drown out any extra noise that may bother you.
With fuel ratings at 7.5L/100 km for the highway and 8.8L/100 km for the city, the Juke does well if you don’t hammer the gas pedal down and empty the 45 liter tank quicker than you should. I try and keep my RPM’s below 2,500 as often as possible and while it make take a few more seconds to get up to speed, it helps maximize my fuel efficiency.
Along with the Juke’s “love it or leave it” design comes the “love it or leave it” CVT conversation, both which have passionate views. With anything new, it takes time to get used to it. Instead of feeling the car run through five or six gears, the massively fuel efficient CVT feels like it’s always in one gear that’s constantly searching for the best result. The opposition will say that it eliminates the “feel” of driving a car by not physically feeling/experiencing the up and down shifting. For me, it comes down to pragmatism versus traditionalism. While a CVT won’t provide a traditional drive-like quality, it’s smart technology that’s appearing in several modern cars.
What am I getting at? I can look (err, listen) past the noisy CVT knowing that it reduces trips to the pump and offers a smoother, albeit slower, ride. And the Juke’s CVT, if maneuvered with the right amount of pressure, offers a great driving experience.
The Juke provides great handling for a vehicle with a higher stance and while I don’t encourage you to take a turn at 50 km/h, I can say that the winding backroads in north Milton weren’t an issue to move through. There’s sort of hybrid handling in the Juke where you get the best of a conventional “car” with the added height of a crossover and still receive stability as you “hand over hand” your way through the road ahead.
New for 2015 is Nissan’s “Colour Studio” where for some extra cash, you can pick one of eight colours to customize your Juke from the side mirror caps to the alloy wheels and many others in between. A little gimmcky but giving customers a chance to put their own flair into the Juke is a smart choice.
Inside, there’s a 5.8” colour touchscreen infotainment system, an around view camera with moving object detection, a back-up camera, voice recognition for audio and navigation and a host of other goodies in the top line SL AWD trim. The heated leather seats offer stability, support and comfort as the leather wrapped steering wheel dictates where the 17” wheels are headed.
The rear seats don’t offer much space for passengers and it can be a bit cramped back there. Comfortable, yes but I’m not certain three adults would send you Christmas cards if you kept them back there for over an hour.
The trunk space offers 10.5 cubic feet of space, which is good enough for groceries, a hockey bag, and a guitar, or whatever smaller things you’re transporting.
Interestingly, Canadian Juke sales from September 2014 compared to September 2015 are up a staggering 49.7% while Sentra sales dipped 14.3%. Not all would be Sentra buyers moved to the Juke but I imagine that some of them opted for it.
Behind the wheel, there’s a simple layout that gives the driver all pertinent information at a glance, just the way it should be.
The 2015 Juke starts a touch above $20K for the entry level SV FWD trim and maxes out at a toonie shy of $32K for the ultra NISMO RS AWD model.
With such a large financial gap, Nissan’s left the door open for the recent grad to the “I want something cool with power” to the elder states folk who may want something higher up without jumping into SUV territory.
As it is, the Juke stands out in a crowd; adding the Colour Studio personalization option will only further that, if you opt for it.
The Juke makes for a wonderful crossover option with funky styling and parented by a company that’s hitting home runs with the new Maxima and Murano. Keep it on your list if you’re looking for something compact and quaint that’s got style, good fuel economy and fun to drive.
SV FWD: $20,498
SV AWD: $23,978
SL AWD: $30,178
NISMO AWD: $28,978
NISMO RS FWD: $28,798
NISMO RS AWD: $31,998
Yay: Unique styling, lots of horsepower, Colour Studio personalization, good handling, fun to drive
Nay: Cramped rear seats, CVT is a bit noisy, large price gap between the mid and high end non-NISMO trims