Nissan Juke Review
"The revolution started here"
Nissan Juke review - rear view, red, 2020

Nissan Juke review: all new, all improved

  • Published 19 May 2020
  • 7 minute read
  • By Richard Aucock

Introduction

The frog-eyed Nissan Juke was deemed a love it or hate it design at launch. A decade later, with hundreds of thousands on British roads, the verdict is in: we love it. That’s why Nissan has, on the face of it, stuck so closely to the original formula with this all-new 2020 Juke.

Britain’s very first small crossover SUV now has dozens of rivals. The runaway success of the Juke has ensured the sector is crowded. Nissan knew it had to pull out all the stops for the new Juke, and the result is a thoroughly designed car with none of the glaring weaknesses found in the original.

Still looks a bit like a frog, only classierNissan Juke review - front view, red, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

For example, it’s gone from having one of the worst boots in the sector, to one of the best. Interior plastics are posher. It’s nicer to drive. And a decade’s worth of customer feedback has helped Nissan add loads of smart attention to detail that marks the new Juke out.

It fits into Nissan’s range above the rather so-so Micra supermini, and beneath the perennially popular Qashqai SUV. That lengthy list of rivals includes the Renault Captur (related to the Juke beneath the surface), Peugeot 2008, Volkswagen T-Cross and sparkling new Ford Puma.

So, in a class of car where fashion is all, why should you believe Nissan’s argument that the original is the best?


Looks, tech and design

The previous Nissan Juke stuck around for a decade, as the company ummed and aahed over a replacement. It was already on the small side and, in a world where cars are growing all the time, it ended up being an outlier. This new one is therefore appreciably larger, which doesn’t just boost space inside, but also helps make it look better.

The longer body is better balanced, I’d even say it looks elegant. I wouldn’t even attempt to argue that about the original. The wheel-at-each-corner stance is purposeful and modern, and the distinctive front end looks good. You can pick a contrasting roof colour (black, silver or red) on Tekna+ grade as well, which is smart. There are a total of 15 colour combinations.

Interior quality is much improvedNissan Juke review - interior, driver's view, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

All Jukes apart from base Visia grade get an 8.0-inch touchscreen, which is mounted high up on the dashboard. Nissan includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, so it pairs easily with your smartphone. There’s a bespoke Nissan smartphone app too, so you can remotely check the fuel level, or if you have locked the doors.

And in an industry first, it also works through Google Home devices, so you can ask about the status of your car through voice. The kids will have a field day with it, as they surely will with the onboard wi-fi. That’ll be another account you need to keep loading up with data.

Audiophiles might like to check out the Bose ‘UltraNearField’ speakers. These are built into the headrests of the front seats, giving an immersive sound experience. I was blown away by it. Lower noise levels inside help you fully enjoy it – even the new ultra-large 19-inch alloy wheels don’t roar or thump too much.

It’s noticeable how much quality has improved inside the new Juke, too. The layout is mature and feel-good. I especially liked the suede-style stitched dashboard top, similar to the sort of finish you get in some luxury cars.

Dedicated app gives you remote accessNissan Juke review - smartphone app, 2020Available to lease Lease Now

Visia and Acenta grades are the price-leaders. Most buyers will start with the costlier N-Connecta, though, which has onboard sat-nav, climate control air-con, keyless go and an electronic parking brake. But Tekna is the one you really want: it has those 19-inch wheels and Bose speakers, plus an extensive active safety pack that keeps you safe on the move. Tekna+ is the most attention-grabbing of all.

Those who had a first-generation Juke will remember the terrible boot space. Now, at 422 litres, the new Juke’s load bay is 10% bigger than even a Volkswagen Golf. The opening is wider too, meaning much less wrangling with pushchairs. There’s more space in the rear seats and the door openings are wider, again helping family-friendliness. The nail-snapping ‘hidden’ rear doorhandles remain, mind…

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Driving

The Nissan Juke feels like a much bigger car to drive, in a good way. Like most small SUVs, you sit nice and high, which feels commanding and confident. Larger cars and trucks don’t tower over you, and it gives the sense of being safer (the Juke also has a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety score).

It’s much comfier than the old Juke in town. The irritable crashes, bangs and jitters over bumpy roads have gone. Some cars are more uncomfortable when you choose large wheels, but the latest Juke is a notable exception here. Despite being higher off the ground, it doesn’t lean too much in corners and the steering feels direct.

As comfortable as it looksNissan Juke review - side view, red, 2020Available to leaseLease Now

You can only choose a single engine option at present: a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol called DIG-T. It sounds on the small side but, with 117hp, it’s a punchy little thing, and makes a nice noise. Pick from a snappy six-speed manual gearbox (the lever is mounted nice and high) or an easygoing automatic called DCT.

If you choose the DCT, you can get the Nissan ProPilot assist system. This is a form of mild autonomous driving tech, which gives steering help on straight roads via the cruise control. It’s far from truly self-driving, but gives you a taste of what cars in the future will be capable of – as well as easing the load on long trips. 

Nissan insists it won’t ever offer a diesel version of the new Juke.

Or try: Our Toyota C-HR review


Cost and economy

The Nissan Juke costs more than a regular supermini, particularly in choice Tekna spec. In this sense, it’s on a par with a family-sized hatchback, although it is very well-equipped, so you get plenty for your money.

The Juke is also an in-demand car that’s well liked on the secondhand market. This means used values stay high, which is how you can lease a Juke from as little as £181 a month. Even the most expensive model is available from £370. The Tekna, for around £250 a month, seems a great deal.

Bigger boot than a VW GolfNissan Juke review - boot space, 2020Available to leaseLease Now

That little petrol engine will return over 45mpg, and CO2 emissions are on the low side, meaning it will be cheap to tax.

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Verdict

How do you follow up a smash-hit success like the Nissan Juke? It would be lazy to just do the same again, and the old model had too many weaknesses for this to work. Instead, Nissan’s designers have spent almost half a decade painstakingly creating this all-new one.

The distinctive Juke look remains, updated for the 2020s. And it’s better elsewhere in almost every way: more spacious, more comfortable, more tech-packed.

I was cynical, as it’s hard to gauge the changes just by looking at the pictures. But if you’re in the market for a small SUV – and, let’s face it, who isn’t these days? – then you should certainly add the Juke to your list of considerations. Because the original is now also one of the best.

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