Once a quirky character with a huge following, the Nissan Juke Hybrid Tekna+ has been ‘defunked’ and cleaned up. So what does the new Juke offer country folk, asks Charlie Flindt
I had a soft spot for the original Nissan Juke. It seemed halfway between ‘funky’ and ‘barking mad’, with its unconventional styling and weird little touches; check out those dinner plate headlights, which might not actually be in the right place to be headlights, those bulging rear wheel arches, the ‘overshot jaw’ bumper, the centre console styled, they say, on a motorbike’s fuel tank. And those wacky colours. People loved it, and it sold by the million. We country folk waited (in vain) for a 4×4 diesel commercial farm runabout version, only because it would have, surely, to be called a Jukebox. Not to be as the powers that be have named it: Nissan Juke Hybrid Tekna+.
NISSAN JUKE HYBRID TEKNA+ REVIEW
The new Juke has been somewhat ‘defunked’ (a word one doesn’t see often enough in The Field) and, inevitably, has lost some charm. The cabin has a few quirky touches, even if it is still snug. The dashboard features a lot of suede-effect surface that developed a bad case of dandruff as the week went by. The seat bases are nice and long, but more lumbar support would have been welcome. I was quite taken by the speakers built into the head rests, although 10 minutes trying to set the right balance made me question whether they were more gimmick than gadget.
The rear seats are even snugger and the boot – a weakness in the old Juke – has lost space (in my test car, anyway) to the hybrid battery system. But you must remind yourself that the Juke is a compact SUV, which are often little bigger than standard hatchbacks.
No diesel power any more, of course, and the hybrid system seems to tick all the eco boxes. It still feels odd to drive, with an engine doing its own thing, seemingly disconnected from the pedal and the curious dial that sits where the rev counter used to be. Once or twice it would indulge in some manic roaring, which was unsettling, especially when there was nothing on the dashboard to enlighten you.
It’s front-wheel drive only, too, which was perfectly good enough in the November deluges but ruled out any thoughts of an off-road foray. One curious aspect of driving in the wet was the loud noise coming from the wheel arches as water sprayed up into them, wrecking the relative silence of the hybrid drivetrain. Some wet corners produced entertaining skittishness from the rear end, but nothing alarming. The Juke’s performance is nothing to write home about – but potential buyers are unlikely to rush to the 0-62mph figures. They’re much more likely to be impressed by the Juke’s healthy fuel consumption figures.
I felt the little SUV fell between two stools. It seems to be trying to carry the flag for smile-inducing quirkiness – with clever little touches designed to make it stand out in the car park and pull in buyers who could forgive its faults. At the same time, the corporate mentality has wielded a red pen, quashing individuality, and the Juke has merged into a massed marketplace of compact SUVs – where other cars from other makers do a more complete job.
♦ Engine: 1,598cc four-cylinder petrol/electric hybrid
♦ Power: 143bhp
♦ Max speed: 103mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 10.1 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 56.5mpg
♦ Insurance group: 15
♦ Price: £30,425