Young de­sign­ers cre­ate fresh look

The Kiwi ver­sions of the Nis­san’s Juke are un­der assem­bly in Sun­der­land, north east Eng­land, and Rob Maet­zig has driven it

South Waikato News - - FARMING -

There are lots of Nis­san Jukes in the New­cas­tle area, the rea­son is ob­vi­ous – Nis­san Sun­der­land is the area’s largest em­ployer and they are en­ti­tled to ob­tain the prod­uct at spe­cial prices.

De­scribed by Nis­san as the first-ever com­pact cross­over ve­hi­cle and there­fore with no real op­po­si­tion, it is a dis­tinc­tivelook­ing and fairly high­rid­ing five-door hatch that ap­peals as be­ing of 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 cur­rently be­ing of­fered by the 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.

‘‘But we have an un­usu­ally young team of de­sign­ers here and they tend to take a more fresh ap­proach to ve­hi­cle de­sign,’’ he said.

‘‘And Western ve­hi­cle de­sign­ers tend to be bolder with their cre­ations, too. 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. Whereas Nis­san UK’S busi­ness plan was for 80,000 Juke sales this year, the num­ber has in fact passed 150,000 and de­mand con­tin­ues un­abated.

Will this pop­u­lar­ity be repli­cated in New Zealand? Well, there’s no doubt that 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 poised ready to pounce.

The tail lights are dis­tinc­tively shaped and spread out over Volvo-like flanks, while the frontal light sys­tem fea­tures in­di­ca­tor lights that pro­trude from the front fend­ers. The shapes of these lights di­vert wind from the ex­te­rior mir­rors when the Juke is at pace, thus 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 86kw/158nm 1.6-litre four cylin­der petrol en­gine of­fered sound if fairly unin­spir­ing per­for­mance. Hit sport, though, and things change a lot 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 on be­half of the driver.

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 amount of en­ergy used by the air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem. As a re­sult, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of 6.3 L/100 km is claimed.

Juke is well spec­i­fied, of­fer­ing full con­nec­tiv­ity, six- speaker au­dio, in­tel­li­gent key with push-but­ton start, and a drive com­puter that can of­fer all sorts of 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. Its 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 with a cen­tre con­sole based on a mo­tor­cy­cle fuel tank, de­serves to also have a few nifty-but-use­less apps to its on-board com­puter wiz­ardry.

Of course that’s as long as un­der­neath it all, there’s a good car. My im­pres­sion af­ter last week’s win­try tour from New­cas­tle to Ed­in­burgh, is that Juke is in­deed a good prod­uct. It looks happy, too. I can see it eas­ily meet­ing Nis­san NZ’S sales pre­dic­tion of 80 units a month.

The Nis­san Juke’s pric­ing and spec­i­fi­ca­tion will be made known closer to its launch next year but we’d ex­pect the low $30,000s for the base ST with the higher spec Ti ask­ing a lit­tle more.

NIS­SAN JUKE: Sell­ing like hot cakes on its home mar­ket.

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