It's hard not to notice a car which looks like you'd be able to drive it down a boat ramp and then spend the day on the water in it before driving home. But that was the old Nissan Juke, and despite that small SUV's startling amphibious looks, you need to forget all about it. That's because the new Juke has arrived and according to Nissan it's nothing like the old one.
Nissan was so keen on using words like “all-new” about this second generation Juke that we decided to call them on it. We challenged the engineering team to name any features of the new Juke which were on the old one. And they could, but just one, and I'll reveal what they came back with in the review below.
Yes, there have been a lot of changes to the Juke, even though this small SUV may look broadly like the old one. Read on to find out if these are changes for the better.
Please note, do not drive either the old or new Juke into the sea.
Nissan says the Juke's all new apart from one thing - read the story to find out what. (ST-L and Ti variants pictured)
The ST is also good value. Not only does it have the same powertrain as the rest (see the engine section below) and almost all the same safety equipment (yep, see the safety section), but the standard features list is pretty darn good.
Coming standard on the ST is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, 4.2-inch TFT instrument display, rear view camera, cruise control, air conditioning, cloth seats, hill start assist, rear spoiler, LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, rear parking sensors, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The top of the range Ti comes with 19-inch alloy wheels. (Ti variant pictured)
The ST+ adds LED fog lights, sat nav, digital radio, heated front seats and front parking sensors.
If you can afford it, the ST-L is definitely the sweet spot of the range and takes the ST+'s features and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, 7.0-inch driver display, six-speaker stereo, drive modes, rain sensing wipers, push button start, proximity key, climate control, a centre arm rest up front, electric park brake, leather and cloth seats and adaptive cruise control.
The Ti sits at the top of the range and adds rear privacy glass, quilted leather seats, 19-inch alloy wheels and an eight-speaker Bose stereo, including speakers in the front head rests. Yes, the head rests.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
The super quirky looks of the first Juke that arrived in 2010 would have turned off a lot of potential buyers, but the unconventional styling was also part of the small SUV's charm for many who wanted a unique looking car.
The new Juke looks significantly different for a couple of reasons. One is that since the first Juke arrived Hyundai and Toyota have come up with similarly styled Kona and C-HR (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?) and another is this second-gen Juke's design has been toned down.
At a glance, the new Juke may look a lot like the previous one, but the likeness is really only because of the bulbous face with oversized headlights and a sloping roofline in side profile. The fun, bubble car styling has gone and we've now got a more serious, chiseled and refined looking SUV.
The new Juke looks significantly different for a couple of reasons. (ST-L variant pictured)
This second-gen Juke’s design has been toned down. (ST-L variant pictured)
Sure, it's a bit more conservatively styled, especially from the rear, but I like the headlights now with a Y-shape design, and the way the sleek LED running lights plunge down into the large grille.
Longer, wider and taller than the old Juke, the new Juke is 4210mm end to end (75mm more than the previous model), 1800mm across (+35mm) and stands 1595mm tall (+30mm).
Telling the grades apart visually can be tricky, but the ST and ST+ share the same 17-inch alloy wheels, while the ST-L and Ti both have 19-inch rims but with differing styles. The Ti is also the only grade to have a shark fin antenna and privacy glass.
At a glance, the new Juke may look a lot like the previous one, but the likeness is really only because of the bulbous face with oversized headlights and a sloping roofline in side profile. (Ti variant pictured)
The fun, bubble car styling has gone and we’ve now got a more serious, chiseled and refined looking SUV. (Ti variant pictured)
Longer, wider and taller than the old Juke, the new Juke is 4210mm end to end (75mm more than the previous model). (Ti variant pictured)
The new Juke's cabin also has a more sophisticated look to it than the previous model. The tech is modern with an 8.0-inch screen and so is the styling.
I'm a fan of the way Alcantara is blended into the Ti's interior from the seats and the dashboard to the centre console and door trims, adding a premium feel. The Ti's quilted leather seats with integrated headrests (including stereo speakers) also feel special.
There are eight colours to choose from including the two no-cost standard hues of 'Fuji Sunset Red' and 'Arctic White.' The premium colours cost $595 and include 'Ivory Pearl', 'Burgundy', 'Platinum', 'Gun Metallic', 'Pearl Black' and 'Vivid Blue.'
The new Juke’s cabin also has a more sophisticated look to it than the previous model. (Ti variant pictured)
The tech is modern with an 8.0-inch screen and so is the styling. (Ti variant pictured)
How practical is the space inside? 8/10
Space was the biggest weakness of the old Juke, now the larger size of the cabin and cargo area is the one of the new version's biggest strengths.
Being longer, wider and taller with an increase in wheelbase means space inside is good for the segment. I'm 191cm (6'3") tall and I can sit behind my driving position without my knees touching the seat back (just).
That's better than the Hyundai Kona or Mazda CX-3. I can't fit behind my driving position at all in those. Headroom is just enough for me back there, too.
Being longer, wider and taller with an increase in wheelbase means space inside is good for the segment. (Ti variant pictured)
Entry and exit is now easier, thanks to the longer wheelbase, with bigger rear doors and wheelarches that don't eat into the doorway as much as before.
A 422-litre boot is a huge improvement over the previous car's 207-litre cargo capacity and will swallow up the CarsGuide pram easily (see the video). Neither the Kona nor the CX-3 can do that.
Cabin storage is good with a glove box that's nine litres larger than before, door pockets and two cupholders (up front).
A 422-litre boot is a huge improvement over the previous car’s 207-litre cargo capacity and will swallow up the 'CarsGuide' pram easily (see the video). (Ti variant pictured)
For charging, all Jukes have a USB port and a 12V outlet up front, while the ST-L and Ti have a USB port in the second row, too.
All Jukes seat five, although I wouldn't want to sit in the middle of the second row for long.
While the three-cylinder is plucky and provides enough grunt, the dual-clutch auto isn't the best I've used and results in a prominent lurching sensation as it changes gears. Don't let this put you off, this is sometimes a characteristic of these transmissions.
What's it like to drive? 7/10
This second-generation Juke is built on a brand-new platform, which not only accounts for the car's increase in size but also for the way it drives.
This new Juke feels completely different to the previous model with ride comfort and handling being so much better.
I test drove the top-of-the-range Ti only, but all Jukes have the same engine and transmission. My test route was city- and suburban-based as well, but that's the natural habitat for a car like this, anyway.
Everything about the driving set-up feels right - a great seating position with a low hip point, light and accurate steering, good pedal feel, and great visibility all round.
All Jukes have the same engine and transmission. (ST-L variant pictured)
Driving in peak hour traffic I had to make three-point turns, I did parallel parks with the pressure on, I also had to gun it at the traffic lights because my lane ran out and I wanted to merge ahead of a tradie who was dead-set-keen to get home.
There's probably not a better baptism of fire for a city road test. What I like is that it took no time to feel at home in the cockpit and familiar steering the car.
The new Juke has an adequate turning circle (11.0m), is easy to park and acceleration is surprisingly good. It's a light car at 1274kg and the little 1.0-litre engine had no issues pulling its own weight along, plus me and the videographer inside. If you want to see my first drive impressions video, it's at the top of this review.
Okay, things to know. You're going to notice the engine's 'thumpy' sound and also the 'lurchy' way the transmission changes gears, but neither of those are bad things. Well, they're not deal breakers.
I like the headlights now with a Y-shape design, and the way the sleek LED running lights plunge down into the large grille. (Ti variant pictured)
See, the engine is a three-cylinder and they have a characteristic purr to them which can be louder than you might expect, and the transmission is a dual-clutch automatic.
While brands such as Volkswagen can make these shift almost seamlessly, other dual-clutches, like this one, shift a little slower, causing a loss of momentum and a slight lurch, as you get with a manual gearbox.
These aren't deal breakers and you're going to find transmission shortcomings in the Toyota C-HR with its droning CVT auto which saps acceleration and the Hyundai Kona which also has a jerky dual-clutch.
Even so, the lurching from the dual-clutch means the Juke misses out on getting an eight out of 10 in my books which is for an outstanding driving experience. Volkswagen has mastered this type of transmission over many years and Nissan's version doesn't appear as good, yet.
It took no time to feel at home in the cockpit and familiar steering the car. (ST-L variant pictured)
That said, the Juke is still fun and easy to drive.
The Ti I drove and the ST-L have disc brakes front and back, while the ST and ST+ have drum brakes at the rear. That would surely be to keep the prices low on those grades, but under normal driving conditions you won't notice any difference in braking performance.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
The new-gen Juke scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2019 achieving a 94 per cent mark for adult occupant protection and 87 per cent for child occupant protection. That's better than many prestige European cars tested in the same year.
Another great thing is that all Jukes come standard with the same armoury of advanced safety technology including AEB (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and blind-spot warning.
For child seats you'll find three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.
There's a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
The Juke is covered by Nissan's five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty which is transferable to the new owner if you sell it. You also get five years' roadside assistance.
Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 20,000km and the first five services are set at $287 for the first service, $419 for the second, $477 for the third, $419 for the fourth, $407 for the fifth, and $287 for the sixth.
The new Juke is not just better than the old one, it's better than many of its rivals for space and practicality, value and safety tech. Yes, the amphibious charm of the old model has been toned down, but this is a completely new model. Ah, that reminds me, just before I wrote this review, I thought I'd call out Nissan on their “completely new” Juke claim. Did anything from the old car find its way onto the new car? What about the windows? Is it totally different glass? Well, the engineering and product teams came back to me and said that nothing had been carried over to the new car, even the glass is different – it's thicker and a different shape. But then they said there was one thing that was on the old car that's been put on the new car – the Juke badge. There you go, not completely new then, is it?
If you're looking for the sweet spot in the range it's the ST-L - it's about $3,000 less than the Ti and has just about the same features, apart from the headrest speakers, but you don't need those, do you? Okay, silly question, every car should have them.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.