THE market is flooded with SUV’s big, small, cheap and expensive. There is a multitude of choices and one small SUV that has been at the centre of good and bad press due its, well, out-there design, is the Nissan JUKE.
Some have said that the JUKE is more of a Joke, and should never have been created. But Nissan has stuck by the little Joke, sorry JUKE, and have transformed it for 2020. But have they done enough to stay competitive in the compact SUV category?
Well yes! Nissan have un-joked the JUKE.
The meaning of JUKE is to dance, change direction or demonstrate agility. Not only have the aesthetics improved on the compact Nissan, but we’re happy to say it’s certainly come a long way since its inception in 2010.
It is now bigger, roomier and more user friendly inside and out, than ever before, which makes it stand out from the crowd. We’re the first to admit we weren’t massive fans of the original either, but the redesign has softened and vastly improved its appearance.
And so, we have become fans of this compact Nissan. In this case, the ST-L variant, complete with Alcantara accented seats, which look fantastic and are very comfortable. At this level, your JUKE gets some smart looking 19-inch alloys as well.
Inside the cabin, the JUKE feels well put together. There are some hard plastics at the tops of the doors, but it still look good. Overall, the finish and quality of materials are excellent.
The flowing door and contrasting inserts, characterful design and execution of the dash add to the sporty appeal. Ambient lighting, a leather-accented steering wheel and shift knob complete the look.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen common to all models is home to the JUKE’s entertainment and in-car information. Included are a reversing camera and voice recognition, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across the range.
We were surprised by how much room there is within the cabin, especially in the second row. You are actually able to sit behind both front seats without feeling hemmed in, and while the roof line is lower than a regular SUV, there’s more than enough head room.
There’s 422-litres of useful luggage space, but there is a deep lip into the storage floor, and when you fold the second row seats down, there is also a step from that floor up onto the backs of the seats.
It has to be said though, that while the storage space isn’t perfect, Nissan has made the best of what is undoubtedly a compact body style.
The JUKE ST-L is powered by a spritely 3-cylinder turbocharged 1.0-litre engine, coupled with a seven speed dual clutch transmission and paddle shifts. The little engine produces 84kW and 180Nm, which surprisingly does a great job.
Nissan claim fuel consumption of 5.8-litres/100km combined and the best consumption we achieved was 7.0-litres/100Km. All variants are front-wheel drive and no options for 4WD or all-wheel drive are available.
It’s a bit of a shame, as this would open up to a whole additional market of potential buyers. That’s not to say that the FWD doesn’t do a good job. It’s very good, save for the engine stop/start function, that does hold for a second before reactivating.
The ride height is excellent and suspension is quite firm. The chassis feels taut, making the Nissan a lot of fun to drive. It’s no sports car, and despite the elevated ride height, it enjoyed being pushed through corners with minimal fuss.
The brakes did a fine job in bringing the JUKE to a stop and inspired confidence for the drive. Safety and driver assist technology is great on all models with the top spec Ti gaining only a few extras over its stable mates.
Standard kit includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward collision warning, lane departure waning, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert.
A speed limiter, emergency stop signal and traffic sign recognition is also included. All of this safety technology ensures the 2020 Nissan JUKE ST-L grabs a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating.
The 2020 Nissan JUKE is certainly no joke anymore. Some might still not like the design and inclusions, but we have been converted. It is now more competitive in the compact SUV market, and represents great value for money.
If you’ve been converted like us, take one for a drive, you will be pleasantly surprised. The 2020 JUKE line-up comprises the ST, ST+, ST-L and Ti grades, ascending in equipment levels and price.
The 2020 Nissan JUKE ST-L is priced from $27,990 (plus on-roads), and is available in Fuji Sunset Red, Vivid Blue, Ivory Pearl, Gun Metallic and Pearl Black.
Our test vehicle was provided by Nissan Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Nissan JUKE ST-L, contact your local Nissan dealer.