Suzuki S-Cross 4x2 GLX auto 2014 review
The S-Cross is the replacement for the compact SX-4 hatch cum four-wheel drive. The old one sold largely on price and though larger this one will struggle at the price against a sea of competitors.
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With SUV sales booming in Australia – they account for more than 30 per cent of all passenger car sales - Nissan is well set to cash in. Earlier this year the company launched the all-new luxury V8 Patrol which is sold alongside the 'old' diesel Patrol.
An all-new Pathfinder has just been launched and the all-new X-Trail will arrive in April next year. Nissan Dualis sales are going gang-busters at 20 per cent of the small SUV segment.
Now the range has welcomed a smaller wild-child sibling: the quirky Juke has styling that's loved by some and hated by others, though we have yet to find someone that doesn't have an opinion on the shape.
Across the ditch, the Kiwis had no hesitation in adopting Juke when it was offered to them in 2011, while Australia rejected the offer at that time. A change at the top of Nissan Australia saw the Juke revisited and put on the want list.
The front headlamps are the first styling cue to hit the senses. The headlamps split into two elements and are raised well above the mudguards. From the driver's seat looking forward it's a Porsche 911-like vista with the bonnet dropping away while the lights frame the view. Still at the front, another dominating feature is the large lower part of the headlamps that sit where you would expect foglamps to be.
At the rear there are matching large wheel arches that spread wider than the body giving an aggressive stance. The shoulder line rises while the roofline drops giving a similar sporty appearance to Land Rover's Evoque. The back window of the Juke is slanted dramatically.
The dominating interior feature is a one-piece plastic centre console that houses the handbrake, storage and drink holders, as well as the gear shifter. But it is shaped like a super bike fuel tank with the upper front raised higher to house the gear shifter.
Bluetooth streaming comes standard, it has steering-wheel mounted controls, cruise control, speed limiter, remote keyless entry and the ST-S and Ti-S variants have a five-inch colour VGA LCD screen, satellite navigation, six speakers. The topline Nissan Juke Ti-S also has heated leather seats.
In Australia the Nissan Juke comes with two engine options: a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with 86 kW of power and 158 Nm of torque, as well as the same engine with direct injection and turbo derived from the Nissan Pulsar SSS and belting out 140 kW and 240 Nm of torque. We got to drive the latter of the two and this AWD variant is no slouch.
The entry level Juke ST comes with a five-speed manual transmission or CVT while the Juke ST-S is fitted with a six-speed manual and the top-specced Juke Ti-S has the CVT with preset ratios that give a sort of a manual mode.
Six airbags are standard and ST-S and Ti-S models get rear view camera, stability control, rain sensing wipers and auto on/off headlights with dusk detection.
Nissan could have been satisfied with its design and used plain-jane underpinnings in both suspension and driveline. Instead they have produced a package that will appeal to sporty SUV buyers. Nissan Juke Ti-S is quick off the mark with even a light touch of the accelerator, and provides instant up and go when needed. The CVT is one of the better ones we have driven. We also like the ability to access the `gears' to drive it manually.
We took it along some badly corrugated dirt roads and it did feel a little uncomfortable in the back end. But, around bends it holds on beautifully with no sign of understeer. Our first driving impression is favourable, and we're interested to see if that holds up in a longer test.
Depite the quirky styling, there's still been attention given to space and practicality, and the Juke offers enough versatility to make it family-friendly – including the second row of seats having a 60/40 split and folding create a large cargo area.
Don't be put off by the polarising styling. This is a great driving SUV with a neat touch of sportiness.
|ST (fwd)||1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN||$9,000 – 13,990||2014 Nissan Juke 2014 ST (fwd) Pricing and Specs|
|ST Midnight||1.6L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$10,999 – 15,800||2014 Nissan Juke 2014 ST Midnight Pricing and Specs|
|ST-S (fwd)||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$14,789 – 14,990||2014 Nissan Juke 2014 ST-S (fwd) Pricing and Specs|
|ST-S Midnight||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$11,100 – 16,280||2014 Nissan Juke 2014 ST-S Midnight Pricing and Specs|