Nis­san Juke

Love it. Don’t hate it. This guy was built for pure en­joy­ment

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - Words by Paulo Rafael Subido Pho­tog­ra­phy by Vin­cent Coscol­luela

I’m smit­ten with the Nis­san Juke. Not only do I love its funky looks, but after a solid month with it, I can say that its beauty isn’t only skin-deep. Let’s just say that if you are look­ing for a sub­com­pact cross­over that is ef­fi­cient and fun to drive, this is it. Sure, it has its share of haters, but we don’t give a damn what they think. We drive what makes us happy, and the Juke can de­liver the smiles per gal­lon.

Un­der the hood and mounted down low is a 1.6- liter mill that is good for 114hp and 154Nm. These are con­ser­va­tive fig­ures on pa­per, but when you’re behind the wheel and on a road trip, it doesn’t seem that way at all. Must be be­cause ev­ery com­po­nent in this model com­ple­ments all the rest. Just to be clear, I’m not ex­pect­ing su­per­car per­for­mance from the Juke. But even I was sur­prised by how much I en­joyed driv­ing it.

The in­te­rior, which matches the traf­fic-stop­ping looks, is built to a very high stan­dard. Fit and fin­ish is ex­cel­lent, and as you will see, you get a whole ar­ray of un­ex­pected fea­tures that be­long on more ex­pen­sive models. This stan­dard vari­ant is priced at P980,000, while the N-Style and the N-Sport go for P1.096 mil­lion and P1.069 mil­lion, re­spec­tively. The en­try-level Juke al­ready suits what I am look­ing for if I were in the mar­ket for a car like this.

But first, I have to ad­dress the per­ceived weak­ness of the Juke: It has been said that there’s some lag when you put the pedal to the floor. Ad­mit­tedly, the feel­ing is sim­i­lar to the ‘rub­ber-band ef­fect’ al­ready men­tioned in our pre­vi­ous re­view of the Juke. For­ward drive doesn’t quite cor­re­spond with the sound that the en­gine is mak­ing as the revs climb. But if you de­velop a feel for the gas pedal and don’t treat it like an on/off switch, you can get up to cruising speed with

the same alacrity as a car with sim­i­lar dis­place­ment. The sen­sa­tion does take some get­ting used to, and I do agree with con­trib­u­tor Carlo Chun­gunco’s prior ob­ser­va­tions, but I have to point some­thing out: The beauty of Nis­san’s ver­sion of the CVT, dubbed the Xtronic, lies in how ef­fi­cient it makes the whole pack­age. That same rub­ber-band ef­fect can be used to your ad­van­tage. How? Get up to cruising speed, and once you let off the gas pedal, the trans­mis­sion im­me­di­ately drops into over­drive mode. You can cruise at 100kph with the tach read­ing just a few notches over 1,500rpm. That’s pretty amaz­ing. And when you switch to cruise con­trol, you’ve got a high­way ma­chine that will ef­fort­lessly and ef­fi­ciently eat up the kilo­me­ters.

I managed a fan­tas­tic 13.5km/ L av­er­age dur­ing my ex­tended time with the Juke. Where did I go with it? Two round trips to Baguio and one to Los Baños. Oh, and a drive to Lin­gayen as well. I eas­ily did 1,300km, which also in­cluded my trips around the city through some hellish traf­fic. Neat that you can mon­i­tor your mileage and how much fuel is in that im­pres­sive 52- liter tank us­ing the fuel-econ­omy/drive­mode dis­play on the cen­ter of the dash. When the Dy­namic Con­trol Sys­tem isn’t dis­play­ing the A/C con­trols, the drive- mode se­lec­tor can show elapsed fuel con­sump­tion in Econ­omy mode, and the power and torque out­put in Sport mode. Switch­ing back and forth be­tween air­con­di­tion­ing and drive-mode menus is as sim­ple as push­ing a but­ton. What might be seen as a gim­mick is actually a clever way to uti­lize dash­board space.

One of the best char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Juke is that it be­haves like a car that was built for hav­ing fun. The ride is firm but not jar­ring, and tack­ling the sharp cor­ners of Ken­non Road and Mar­cos High­way is a joy. The sus­pen­sion was tuned with the driv­ing en­thu­si­asts in mind. I can hon­estly say that the ride and han­dling qual­ity be­longs in a car that costs twice as much. Body roll is min­i­mal, even if you ride higher up. The 17in wheels shod with low-pro­file rub­ber must have some­thing to do with the fan­tas­tic cor­ner­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. Let’s just say that the en­gi­neers cre­ated a good bal­ance be­tween com­fort and sporti­ness. Even mas­sive pot­holes can be taken in stride.

The steer­ing isn’t su­per-light ei­ther, some­thing we fully ap­pre­ci­ate in a world where turn­ing the tiller on most cars re­quires lit­tle or no ef­fort at all. And when it comes to stop­ping power, the brakes in­spire con­fi­dence. The pedal of­fers great feed­back and re­sponse, and even dur­ing spir­ited drives up and down the moun­tain, there was no in­di­ca­tion of im­pend­ing brake fade. Again, the en­gi­neers did an amaz­ing job.

And mind you, this driv­ing bliss

isn’t just dur­ing fair weather. I did most of my trav­el­ing dur­ing ty­phoon season; the down­pour on Mar­cos High­way was very heavy. I ap­pre­ci­ated the added ride height be­cause this gave me con­fi­dence in the pitch black­ness, even if all around me it was rain­ing sheets. The three lay­ers of lights up front were a huge help, and the pair of round ones in the mid­dle pierced through the darkness.

Here are my nig­gles: The green­house is quite small. The glass doesn’t have all that much area to see out of, and those A-pil­lars are mas­sive! You also have to be mind­ful of cars that creep along­side you in traf­fic be­cause the Juke has a very high hip line. At least rear­ward vis­i­bil­ity isn’t com­pro­mised. With this in mind, shorter driv­ers should raise the seat level for a bet­ter view of the road ahead and mov­ing traf­fic from the side.

And then there’s the is­sue of cargo space. Not the best in the seg­ment, that’s for sure. Thank­fully, the 60/40 split-fold­ing rear seats can be folded down. There’s also added stor­age un­der­neath the cargo floor and above the spare. Be­sides, this cargo limit is some­thing that I’m will­ing to live with. I en­vi­sion the Juke as more of a fun per­sonal trans­port than a ride for a big fam­ily, any­way.

There’s no news about a re­fresh, but we are pay­ing very close at­ten­tion to the ru­mor mill. And even if the model is grow­ing long in the tooth, it’s still worth check­ing out be­cause it can hold its own against newer crossovers in the seg­ment. Plus, its sub-P1-mil­lion price tag is just so en­tic­ing. It’s amaz­ing that this model, which was first in­tro­duced in Ja­pan in 2010, still looks so fresh to­day. Love it or hate it, the Juke is here to stay. Props to Nis­san Philip­pines for bring­ing in a model that caters to folks who dare to drive some­thing dif­fer­ent.

And did I al­ready men­tion that Juke’s air-con­di­tion­ing is su­per cold?

‘Props to Nis­san PH for sell­ing a model that caters to those who dare to drive some­thing dif­fer­ent’

There’s nothing else on the road quite like it

The tough plas­tic cladding is a great touch

You can pick what you want dis­played here

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