Review: 2011 Nissan Juke Take Two

Posted on 10. Jun, 2011 by in Auto News

Back in 1989 I spent some time blasting along the unpaved roads in the south west in a 1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo. A common thought: "What this thing really needs is more ground clearance." That same year, Pontiac a sports car / SUV crossover appears as a concept. The Stinger was never produced, but it remained in the memories of GM and eventually provided inspiration for both the Vibe and Aztek. Neither came near the stinger. Both lacked the chassis dynamics of the mission that I had in mind to fulfill.
And so it fell to Nissan, the first compact crossover field with the spirit of a sports car. JUKE is worth waiting two decades?

If the Pontiac Aztek designers were not forced to make extensive use of a minivan under construction, it would have looked like the JUKE: weird and in-your-face, too ugly, but (for the target market at least) cool ugly. Much more compact and stronger than the Aztek-proportioned, it is only 162.4 inches long on a 99.6-inch wheelbase and with aggressive flared fenders, the JUKE the sporty attitude Pontiac designers could sketch only. Blinker bubbles provide perched high up on the wings for a unique view from the driver's seat. They also make the front corners of the vehicle easy to find with parking.

Within the JUKE, the striking styling with a center console is shaped and ready to remind the tank of a motorcycle. Appropriate trim can be found on the door mounted armrests. These bits are available in red, in the silver of the tested car that they do not stand out nearly as much. Another sporty touch: the floating hood over the instruments. Other design elements do not work so well. Nissan odd long-term affection for orange LCDs still a large part of the instrument panel lighting (although thankfully not the main instruments) and the graphics on the center console remember the multi-function display of the excesses of the mid-1980s. Are considered some of them might be useful, or at least entertaining screens boost gauge one, a bound too easy two-dimensional G-meter, and fuel logging, but the screen is mounted just above the shifter, so much for low secure while in motion. The patterned light gray low-knap velor upholstery looks out of place inside such a painful hip vehicle. In addition, dirty begin searching within seconds cleaning. Black and red / black upholstery is also available-get one of those.

If you're wondering where you fit in the Juke, you can not. Well, maybe you can. There is enough leg and head room for drivers up to 6-2, maybe 6-3. But space for shoulders and hips is scarce. The interior is to begin compact, and highly styled center console takes the place of some of the drivers. Their right knee (I drive with my legs fairly straight, so this does not affect me) place In the back, if I'm only 5-9 my head brushes the headliner and my legs graze the front seat back (if the former is positioned well, where I like it). With a large driver in the front seat, the rear is reserved for those best 5-6 and under. Nobody in my family of five is great, though, so we all fit without incident.

The JUKE the front seats comfortable in casual driving, I found nothing to complain about in this area. Get jiggy with the JUKE, however, and its lack of side support clear quickly. The headquarters of the pillow, small to begin with, are also often arranged for a slim driver. They sit high crossover, not far from a relatively upright windshield. Add in the tight interior and the aforementioned high-mounted turn signals, and forward vision is like nothing else in, and very much in line with the extroverted styling. The rear side windows are small, so that while the view from the rear seat is open at the front, it is on the side of limo-like. The cargo area is also compact-even a MINI Countryman can haul a lot more stuff. Still, I was able to in a mountain bike after removing its front wheel and folding the second row (the front seats had to be moved forward a little to the rear headrests through) squeeze.

The JUKE the stability of the character continues with the driving experience. A turbocharged, direct injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine does not put out much power below 3,500 rpm, but with the manual transmission responds quickly and missiles 2828-pound JUKE us once past that mark, the feeling of how it occurred is well over the stated 188 HP. This engine is smooth and loves to rev, releasing a loud sport bike-like "wreeeeeeee" You bet it does. Turbo lag is not apparent, just a lack of power at low revs. This engine deserves a second home in a Miata-like sports car.

In addition to the six-speed manual, a CVT, which can mimic a manually shiftable six-speed automatic is also available. The CVT dulls the engine pep significantly. The manual is a lot more fun, even if the lever action is not the slickest.

Fuel economy is quite good, as long as you do not make heavy use of the turbo. The trip computer reported high 20s in both casual driving around town and on the highway (with a cruising speed of in the 70s). So the EPA ratings of 27/32 seems to be true. Hypermiling the JUKE in the suburbs I managed 33.3. Doing the opposite I observed high teens.

Front-wheel-drive rocketships have known limitations and the JUKE could serve as a prime example of the lot. Accelerate hard in a straight line, and the car pulls one way, then the other, yes, it's torque steer. Get on the gas in the middle again and the inner front wheel loses traction too easily. Take even the slightest bump or uneven expansion in the turn, and all the horses are churning air. The obvious solution (apart from a better tuned suspension): all-wheel-drive. The available system includes torque vectoring to allow even a little throttle-induced oversteer. But there is one problem: all-wheel-drive is offered only with CVT. Nissan should even with the manual, maybe even make it standard with the turbo engine. For those who do not drive in the performance, and thus not in need of more traction, a lower engine would serve well enough. For those who want to replicate the responses of a weaker engine, "Eco" mode is to tap a button away.

The JUKE also takes as it looks, with quick steering with a wheel rotating with a small diameter and a willingness. Dipping into the throttle tightens the car line. The small crossover is playful adorable when you are in the mood to play, effectively merging are the character of a compact crossover with a sports car. Put in the simplest terms, it is a lot of fun, the kind of fun all small cars, but fewer and fewer are actually should.

This said, steering feel could be better. Press the "Sport" button in the center console (which must redone every time the car is started) tightens the steering, most clearly at highway speeds, but it never communicates much of what is going on at the contact patches . Between this and a suspension that feels a little nervous, the trust was not inspired. I never quite felt it with the car. The MINI Countryman, though less overtly sporty doing better here.

Replicate my time in the Celica, I visited my favorite local dirt road in the JUKE. This served to show how the chassis behaves when the tires limits achieved at much lower speeds than on asphalt. JUKE with this road was a tendency for the rear end to go to the light and drive alternating wide even during accelerated slightly. Though not too difficult to catch with a touch of opposite lock, this tendency is even oversteer without lifting off the throttle unusual among the new cars, and a bit of a shock the first time occurred. While not too many people will be juking the dirt roads are wet and snowy roads is another matter. The standard stability control his work for him with enthusiastic but inexperienced.

The JUKE rides like the rather large, short wheelbase, solid cars arose. And because Nissan chassis engineers have not yet figured out how they thought to combine a smooth ride with sporty handling. Ride in their honor, in contrast to the sporty Nissan JUKE not hard. It's just a little reacts strongly to the road imperfections and feels jiggly on all but the smoothest surfaces. But it feels solid and body motions are well controlled. On the highway, there is a moderate amount of noise from the exhaust air and the road. While much quieter than the small cars of the past decades (and my Mazda Protege5), by today's standards, the JUKE borders loud. If you are sensitive to a jiggly, noisy ride are, the Juke will probably start to annoy, if you ready to cruise with Hooning finished.

If you want a performance-oriented compact crossover, generally two ways in North America: The Juke and the MINI Countryman. With his legendary European pedigree, a similarly-equipped MINI price you back $ 5,310 more than the $ 21,640 base JUKE SV to. (The difference was in the vicinity of six major sooner, but Nissan has raised prices a couple of times, for a total bump of $ 620.) For MINI additional functions with True Delta car price comparison tool and the Nissan advantage remains nearly $ 4,000 jobs . Just beware of the gunmetal wheels on the tested car: they are again you almost an extra wing.

Ultimately, the JUKE is at least as much as a sports car crossover. It is styled and highly-a rarity these days drives more sporty than it looks. It smells personality. The downside: The Juke is not terribly practical or even easy to live with. But we have no shortage of practical, dull-to-drive crossover, if that's what you want. Nissan itself gladly sell you a cube or a villain. If you've been looking for a sports car instead, with a little more ground clearance, the Juke one of two ways., And the least expensive by a substantial margin Only a torque steer of caution (to Nissan sees the light and offers AWD with the manual) and the rear end of the tricks on slippery surfaces.

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.