With the Juke, Nissan Motor is introducing a new concept: a “sport cross,” or small, SUV-style alternative to the many compact hatchbacks that are coming on the market to lure tight-fisted, forcibly downsizing consumers. With an exterior style cribbed from off-road rally racing and interior features revved up to mimic sport bikes, the Juke is a quirky five-door, five-seater for individualists who don’t want to sacrifice fun just because they’re pinching pennies.
The new Nissan Juke is one of the weirdest Nissans on the market right now. But maybe its success is due to its funny appearance: since it was launched, Nissan sold 50.000 Jukes worldwide. 20.000 of these models were sold only in Japan. The car maker did not expect that huge success; Nissan was aiming for just 1.300 units. The Juke is also a wanted car in the U.S.A. The car got 17.500 orders.
Starting at $18,960, the car due out this month debuts a number of new technologies the Japanese manufacturer is bringing to the compact car segment, such as advanced torque vectoring on the all-wheel-drive version I was testing.
In addition to a computer that senses wheel slip and accordingly splits the torque front and rear, the Juke’s AWD also splits torque to the left and right sides of the rear axle, thus my traffic circle spin-arounds. Powered with an all-new 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four that adds some go with the show of this sporty-looking ride — while also delivering decent fuel economy — the Juke cranks a respectable 188 horsepower.
Nissan say that the car will amaze with its “agility and smart body motion control through advanced technology.” The reason this car is so easy to handle is that it is a combination between a sports coupe and a crossover. It also features a 1.6 Direct Injected Gasoline Turbo engine that will put out 188 HP and 177 lb-ft of torque.
At the press of a button, drivers can choose between normal, sport and eco, which you might characterize as omnivore, carnivore and vegan, respectively. Although none of the modes is extreme, they are, at least, sufficiently different, unlike many cars that offer similar systems. Sport mode is, of course, “Glee”-fully peppy and obviously the most fun, but this mode is most susceptible to torque steer and makes the steering wheel feel less controllable under hard acceleration.