Un­com­fort­able truth

The Juke is zippy but Nissan still hasn’t smoothed out the rough ride

Herald Sun - Motoring - - THE TICK -

NISSAN’S Juke is a stand­out among com­pact SUVs. Noth­ing else looks re­motely like the Bri­tish-built baby.

The Juke has just had a tweak with mi­nor styling re­vi­sions, ex­tra equip­ment and a 40 per cent boost in the boot space of front-drive mod­els. There is also a fo­cus on the Ti-S mod­els at the top of the line with pric­ing from $29,790, com­pared with the ba­sic Juke from $23,490.

Some ex­am­ples have even been pimped all the way to full­house GT-R su­per­car spec­i­fi­ca­tion as a flag-wav­ing ex­er­cise for Nissan. It’s only tiny num­bers, and not for lo­cal con­sump­tion, but the GT-R trans­for­ma­tion shows what the Juke can be­come with a bit of com­mit­ment and cash.

The Ti-S comes in front or all-wheel drive and can jus­tify splash­ing the ex­tra cash. Im­proved telem­at­ics can be viewed via a 5.8-inch colour screen and there is a 360de­gree cam­era that mim­ics the view in top-priced lux­ury cars such as the BMW 7 Se­ries.

There is dig­i­tal ra­dio, not that it works where I live, with leather trim on the seats (the front pews heated). The Ti-S also has dig­i­tal ra­dio, push­but­ton start and In­tel­li­gent Key with re­mote key­less ac­cess.

Un­der the well-named Safety Shield, Nissan in­cludes lane-de­par­ture and blind-spot warn­ing and mov­ing-ob­ject de­tec­tion, with vis­ual and au­di­ble warn­ings of im­mi­nent dan­ger. The Ti-S also adds xenon lights.

These worth­while changes re­new the Juke’s pitch in the su­per-crowded com­pact SUV class, where the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V cur­rently dom­i­nate the sales rank­ings.

In this class, the Nissan def­i­nitely sticks out. Only the Re­nault Cap­tur — from the other side of the Nissan-Re­nault Al­liance but with no con­nec­tion to the Juke — serves up the same sort of style-driven ef­fort.

It’s time to test for The Tick, the orig­i­nal Juke hav­ing showed some sig­nif­i­cant flaws be­neath its funky gen-Y pan­els. The rock-hard ride was not what you want in a coun­try where

soft-and-sup­ple does a bet­ter job on coun­try roads or the pock­marked bro­ken con­crete of city streets.

The Juke is in­stantly fa­mil­iar, and I go straight to the boot to test the claim of in­creased space. It’s there, for sure, and a big ad­van­tage over ri­vals (the CX-3 in­cluded) that started life with a com­pact hatch plat­form, de­signed with­out the fam­ily con­sid­er­a­tions of an SUV.

I also like the equip­ment in the Ti-S. The sat­nav is among quicker and more in­tu­itive ex­am­ples I’ve driven lately while the 360-de­gree cam­era pack­age makes tight park­ing so much eas­ier.

Then I hit the road and re­alise the Juke is still flawed as a drive. The sus­pen­sion is far too brit­tle and un­com­pro­mis­ing, there is heavy torque steer as the front-drive car tries to put its turbo urge to the road, and the seats are shape­less and un­com­fort­able for both front oc­cu­pants.

The Juke is sur­pris­ingly punchy by the stan­dards of the class, no sur­prise with 140kW/240Nm in an SUV that is only 1300kg as a front-driver.

It can be dif­fi­cult to get away smoothly — the aw­ful “hang­ing” ac­cel­er­a­tor drops revs very slowly be­tween man­ual gearchanges to cut emis­sions — but it has great over­tak­ing power and can be fun on the right road. The six ra­tios in the man­ual are well spread but the shift can be a lit­tle clunky.

Fuel econ­omy is good at 6.0L/100km, although the car takes 95 RON and the turbo adds nearly to $1000 for sched­uled ser­vic­ing through to 100,000km over the ba­sic Juke.

The road needs to be very, very smooth or the Juke turbo tries to spin a front wheel, or crashes around on its sus­pen­sion in a way that’s not re­motely en­joy­able for the driver or pas­sen­gers.

Even up­grad­ing to all-wheel drive, ac­cord­ing to other Cars­guide testers, does not tame the driv­e­line enough for Aus­tralian roads.

Iron­i­cally, the Juke high­lights the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sides of the Re­nault-Nissan Al­liance and the dis­con­nec­tion be­tween mod­els that com­pete in the same class. The Juke has power and no con­trol while the Cap­tur from Re­nault has won­der­ful sus­pen­sion but is well short of go with its baby three- cylin­der en­gine.

It’s a bit of a joke that there is no col­lab­o­ra­tion on things where the two com­pa­nies have com­ple­men­tary skills and the abil­ity to pro­vide the cars that cus­tomers re­ally want and need.

TICK OR NO TICK

It’s great to en­joy the Juke’s safety and con­ve­nience up­grades and big­ger boot. I re­ally wanted some up­dat­ing of the sus­pen­sion and seats that pro­vide more com­fort and sup­port. That hasn’t hap­pened and it means the car’s big­gest flaw still ex­ists. So there is no Tick.

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