New Model NISSAN JUKE
Small and economical crossovers are becoming increasingly popular. But until now, there really hasn’t been a vehicle on the market that could offer first-time buyers the benefits of a crossover at the price of a compact car. Realising this oversight, Nissan has released the smallest crossover of them all
Text: GG van Rooyen
Nissan has never been afraid to wade into mysterious and unfamiliar SUV segments. The Nissan Murano, for example, comes to mind. The company refers to it as “an SUV with the soul of a sports car”, and for the most part, this description is accurate. The Murano is designed to drive and perform like a sports car, but offer the benefits of an SUV.
Launching such a vehicle was a gamble for Nissan, but one that proved to be worth the risk. As it turned out, there were quite a number of buyers looking for a vehicle that had the pace of the 350Z but also offered the commanding driving position and AWD capability of an SUV.
Of course, Nissan took this idea even further by chopping off the vehicle’s roof and releasing what it called the world’s first crossover cabriolet, but this version isn’t available in South Africa. And judging by the reception it received elsewhere, that’s probably a good thing.
Nissan also took a bit of a gamble when it released the Qashqai in 2007. Sure, it was a high-riding crossover, and you could even buy a 4×4 model if you wanted to, but it was squarely aimed at city slickers. This was a small and economical crossover with a good engine that was made to appeal to young, trendy types that had absolutely no interest in venturing off road. To emphasise this, Nissan even produced a television ad that featured a giant teen using the Qashqai as a skateboard as he traversed a sprawling city – not the sort of thing that would appeal to the hardcore 4×4 set.
It turned out, Nissan was right. A lot of people in their 20s and 30s were looking for a stylish but economical crossover. The Qashqai was popular from the moment it was released and continues to sell extremely well.
To widen the appeal of the Qashqai, Nissan also released the Qashqai +2 a couple of years ago – a vehicle ideal for people who still wanted a compact crossover but needed a bit more space than the standard version offered.
But what about buyers looking for an even smaller crossover than the Qashqai – something that is extraordinarily compact and economical, but still fashionable and fun? Here was surely another automotive niche that Nissan could fill.
Enter the Juke. The company’s latest offering is here to provide some crossover competition in the small-car segment. Young buyers, argues Nissan, do not have enough choice when buying a new car. If you’re a first-time buyer, you are probably being forced to choose between an economical little runabout, and, if you’re lucky, a trendy hatch. So why can’t you buy a crossover?
“Juke will inject some much-needed masculinity and dynamism into the small-car segment,” says Nancy Reddy, Nissan SA’s product manager for the Juke. “It may be an unconventional approach, but it celebrates the cutting-edge nature of the Nissan brand and our expertise in producing innovative products.”
Yes, unconventional is a very good description of the Juke. Not only is it trying to etch out a new crossover segment but it also sports a design that promises to be, well, divisive. Some people will love it while others will hate it, but one thing’s for sure, it’ll attract a lot of attention on the road.
The Juke is very funky and far more eye-catching than your average hatch.
Visually, it has a lot going on. There’s a Murano-like C-pillar, massive wheel arches, loads of lines and contours, a bulbous nose and unusually located light clusters.
Does it all work well together? We’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Under the metal sits a 1,6-litre petrol powerplant that is naturally aspirated in the two entry-level models, and turbocharged in the two top-end models.
Naturally aspirated, it generates 86 kW of power and 158 Nm of torque. With the aid of a turbo, it offers 140 kW and 240 Nm of torque, which is a lot of oomph for a diminutive crossover. It will reach 100 km/h from standstill in about eight seconds.
Fuel consumption is good. Nissan claims that the naturally aspirated engine uses only six litres of fuel per 100km, while the turbocharged one sips a mere 6,9 litres.
The interior of the Juke is predictably “hip”. It is vibrant and colourful – full of debonair design flourishes that will appeal to young buyers.
Locally, Nissan isn’t launching an AWD model at this time, though we hope that a 4×4 version will hopefully arrive at a later stage. The majority of buyers, though, will not care. They will be interested in the entry-level models that promise decent performance, good economy and snazzy looks at an affordable price. The Juke promises to be one of the most popular fashion accessories in 2012, so place your order now!
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