Nowadays standing out from the crowd is crucial. Look at fashion for example: skinny pants so tight they look like they’ve been painted on, even skinnier shorts. Drop crotch jeggings (Google it). Cowboy boot sandals…
Same goes for personal grooming: man-buns, twirled moustaches, shaved-comb-over-mullet combinations hairdos. Sleeve tattoos. Piercings. This is the age of standing out. Of individuality. Of customisation.
And it extends to our cars too, perhaps not to such an extent, but this current age of weird and whacky kind of explains why Nissan has managed to sell over 500 000 Juke’s worldwide since 2010 and nearly 12 000 units locally since 2011, which is mighty impressive, considering it’s outrageous styling.
It is a weird looking thing. So what’s new in 2015?
Good news if you’re a fan. Bad news if you’re a hater because the Nissan has chosen to stick with the shouty ‘look at me’ design. And let’s be honest, you can’t drive a Juke and claim that you don’t want to stand out from the crowd.
So what’s new on the Juke in 2015? For starters, I promise this is indeed the new model you see here if you’re scratching your head wondering what is actually new on it.
It might not look like it but the whole front end of the Juke is new. All the lights in the three-tier arrangement have been subtly restyled and the biggest noticeable change is the uppermost lights which now feature a bolder boomerang shape with integrated LED running lights, which are now standard across the Juke range.
The model you see here is the 1.2T Acenta + costing R277 900.00, which means you get a turbocharged 1.2-litre and two-wheel drive. There is a 1.6 turbocharged engine available as well as a 1.5 turbodiesel, with the 1.6-litre available in AWD if you like. Size wise, and apart from the new front, and restyled rear lights, which is a nod to the 370s, the new Juke is largely the same.
You still get steeply raked roofline and hidden rear door handles (they’re up by the windows) and seating for 5, at a squeeze. I can just manage to sit behind the front seat with it set to my own seating position, but I wouldn’t want to for a long period of time. Rear headroom is tight too.
The good news is that boot space – the previous Juke’s Achilles heel – has increased by 40% from 251 litres to 354 litres. How, you might ask? Well, engineers have cleverly lowered the spare wheel to free up more space. But, if you go for the AWD drive model you won’t get the bigger boot because of the rear differential and suspension setup of the AWD system.
Speaking of, do you need an AWD Juke? I don’t think so and reckon the two-wheel drive models will be the sales staple in the range.
Tell me more of the engine options
For the first time, every engine in the Juke range is now turbocharged. Displacing 1.2, 1.6 or 1.5 litres in the case of the diesel model. The model I’ve been driving for the last few days is the 1.2-litre turbo which replaces the old naturally aspirated 1.6 in the previous generation Juke.
Power is up from 69kW to 85kW and crucially torque gets boosted from 140Nm to 190Nm which will make a huge difference especially for those living at altitude.
Well, does it?
Yes, the increase in torque is immediately noticeable and makes a huge difference in day-to-day driving. The Juke is no lightweight and even with a turbo, the 85kW and 190Nm have to work hard to achieve 120km/h.
Mated to a slick 6-speed gearbox the Juke is an engaging drive, even with the slightly raised ride height, it's more hatchback in feel than a crossover. Saying that, arrive too quickly at a tight corner and you do need to take the ‘easy does it’ approach.
Nissan’s I-CON and VDC systems are now standard across the Juke range. VDC stands for Vehicle Dynamic Control and allows you to toggle between three preset drive settings: normal, sport and eco. There are subtle changes to steering weight and throttle response between the three but nothing earth shattering.
Together with the I-CON system you can, for instance, select the D-MODE display, which brings up driving data for the Normal, Sport and Eco modes such as driven hours, average speed and kilometres. Eco displays your fuel economy record and average consumption. Range and fuel consumption is also displayed via the central, drivers LCD.
So what’s new on the inside?
Well, you still get the painted transmission tunnel which Nissan says is “reminiscent of an Italian superbike hinting at the Juke’s nimble road manners.” Me, I think it looks nice.
Interior plastics and general feel are just about acceptable, not quite reaching the quality in the new Kia Soul for example. Hard plastics are plentiful, but overall the interior is pretty upmarket for the price point.
Acenta + gets you two-tone suede-like seat upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, remote keyless access with engine start/stop button, electronic auto-folding mirrors and 17” alloy wheels, all for a fairly reasonable R277 900.00.
The Juke also features Bluetooth phone integration, cruise control with speed-limiting capabilities, stop/start technology and full climate control, which are all standard across the Juke range.
Standard spec is pretty generous across the range, cementing it popularity. Other features include leather multi-function steering wheel, front and rear electric windows, six airbags, ABS, EBD and Isofix anchorage points.
Okay, let’s wrap this up
So, you’ve got your man-bun, drop-crotch jeggings and cowboy boot sandals, is the Nissan Juke the car for you?
Well, modern-day hipsterism dictates you probably buy a 1975 Datsun 1200 GX or some such retro skadonk, but if you’re after something new which will shout about your arrival, loudly, then the Nissan Juke should be just up your street.
|1.2 DIG-T Juke Acenta ||R254,900.00|
|1.2 DIG-T Juke Acenta+ (Driven)||R277,900.00|
|1.5 dCi Juke Acenta+ ||R299,900.00|
|1.6 DIG-T Juke Tekna ||R325,900.00|
|1.6 DIG-T Juke Tekna with Sunroof and NissanConnect||R354,900.00|
|1.6 DIG-T 4WD XTronic Juke Tekna with Sunroof and NissanConnect||R364,900.00|