Juke: Don’t take it too se­ri­ously

New Zealand is soon to get a new Nis­san hatch­back called Juke. Assem­bly of the Kiwi mod­els has started at Nis­san UK’S assem­bly plant at Sun­der­land, near New­cas­tle – and Rob Maet­zig was there to drive the very first of them.

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

De­scribed by Nis­san UK as the first- ever com­pact cross­over ve­hi­cle and there­fore with no real op­po­si­tion, the Juke is a dis­tinc­tive-look­ing and fairly high-rid­ing five-door hatch that ap­peals as be­ing ex­actly the right size for Kiwi small car tastes.

Not only that, but its looks are suf­fi­ciently dif­fer­ent to give it ap­peal as an al­ter­na­tive to the fare be­ing of­fered by Ja­panese and Korean man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The Kiwi me­dia tour to Bri­tain in­cluded a visit to the Nis­san de­sign stu­dios in Lon­don, where the cen­tre’s di­rec­tor of de­sign op­er­a­tions Paul Gar­side de­scribed the Juke as a ‘‘Mar­mite’’ ve­hi­cle – peo­ple ei­ther love it or hate it.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously there’s some risk in­volved in de­sign­ing a ve­hi­cle that is a bit dif­fer­ent but we’re very happy to know that sales in Europe have taken off.’’

That’s for sure. Nis­san UK’S busi­ness plan was for 80,000 Juke sales this year, but the num­ber has passed 150,000 and de­mand con­tin­ues un­abated. Will this pop­u­lar­ity be repli­cated in New Zealand?

Well, there’s no doubt Juke’s dis­tinc­tive look will be no­ticed.

Paul Gar­side said one of its de­sign in­spi­ra­tions was a sand buggy, and I be­lieve it. The car has rak­ish lines thanks to a slop­ing roof, broad and mus­cu­lar wheel arches and a high waist­line, all of which com­bine to make the Juke look like it is ready to pounce.

The tail-lights are dis­tinc­tively shaped and spread out over Volvo­like flanks, while the frontal light sys­tem fea­tures in­di­ca­tor lights that pro­trude out from the front fend­ers.

The shapes of these lights di­vert wind from the ex­te­rior mir­rors when the Juke is at pace, help­ing with fuel econ­omy.

Juke’s in­te­rior is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, too. The de­sign of the cen­tre con­sole is based on the fuel tank of a mo­tor­cy­cle, and the com­bi­na­tion me­ters are mo­tor­cy­cle-style.

The New Zealand spec­i­fi­ca­tion Jukes will also fea­ture a Dy­namic Con­trol Sys­tem, which of­fers three driv­ing modes – nor­mal, sport and eco – which change the op­er­a­tion of the ve­hi­cle’s con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic trans­mis­sion to suit driv­ing pref­er­ences.

I found that when the nor­mal mode was se­lected, the Juke’s 86-kilo­watt per 158-newton me­tre 1.6- litre four- cylin­der petrol en­gine of­fered sound, if fairly unin­spir­ing, per­for­mance.

Hit ‘‘sport’’, though, and things change, with the nee­dle on the rev counter whip­ping up through the numbers as the elec­tronic con­trol sys­tem changes the throt­tle open­ing to work the en­gine harder.

Juke’s elec­tronic power steer­ing is also made firmer when in the sport mode for sharper han­dling.

The eco mode is there to en­cour­age more eco­nom­i­cal driv­ing, pri­mar­ily through chang­ing the trans­mis­sion and ac­cel­er­a­tor map­ping, and by re­duc­ing the en­ergy used by the air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem.

As a re­sult, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of 6.3 litres per 100 kilo­me­tres is claimed.

Juke is well spec­i­fied, of­fer­ing full con­nec­tiv­ity, six- speaker au­dio, in­tel­li­gent key with push­but­ton start, and a drive com­puter that can of­fer in­for­ma­tion on a cen­trally po­si­tioned mon­i­tor.

In fact, in ad­di­tion to all the usual stuff such as trip time and fuel con­sump­tion, I even found a G- force me­ter that in­di­cates where the G load­ings are dur­ing corner­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing. Gee – I thought I al­ready had one of those. It’s called the seat of my pants. Mind you, I think the G-force me­ter does have a nice fit with the Nis­san Juke, be­cause this is a car that asks not to be taken too se­ri­ously.

Any hatch­back cre­ated by a group of young Lon­don- based de­sign­ers, with lines rem­i­nis­cent of a dune buggy, with sticky-out lights and a cen­tre con­sole based on a mo­tor­cy­cle fuel tank, de­serves to have a few nifty-bu­tuse­less apps to its on-board com­puter wiz­ardry.

Of course that’s as long as un­der­neath it, there’s a good car.

My im­pres­sion af­ter a win­try tour from New­cas­tle to Ed­in­burgh, is that Juke is in­deed a good prod­uct. I can see it eas­ily meet­ing Nis­san New Zealand’s sales pre­dic­tion of 80 units a month.

Prices have yet to be an­nounced but ex­pect low to mid-$30,000s for base ST and higher-spec­i­fied Ti mod­els that will be the Kiwi se­lec­tion.

Nis­san Juke: A fa­mil­iar sight on UK roads, the Juke is about to hit New Zealand.

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