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Nissan Juke 2013 Review

A new compact crossover is duking it out for buyer’s affections -- and it’s a polarising car, by Nissan’s own admission.

A new compact crossover is duking it out for buyer’s affections -- and it’s a polarising car, by Nissan’s own admission. The Juke is a mini SUV with radical exterior styling and, in upper-spec models, the turbo 1.6-litre engine from the Pulsar SSS.

The Juke’s biggest issue is the interior quality and the fact a need to match the aggressive styling with an equally aggressive suspension compromises it for its fundamental role as a city car.


Buy the base model ST. At $21,990 it comes with a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine matched to either a five-speed gearbox or a CVT transmission as a $2400 option.  In manual guise, it’s a sharply-priced and reasonable performing car.

Standard gear runs from cruise control to Blueooth with audio streaming. Power is delivered through the front wheels, as it is in the six-speed manual mid-spec ST-S.

The difference is the ST-S picks up the turbo engine, along with interior fruit like satnav, auto wipers and headlamps and a push-button starter. It costs $28,390 and it’s hard to justify that big a jump unless you want the performance, in which case, a Fiesta ST or Pulsar SSS is a smarter buy.

The range-topping Ti-S shares the turbo engine matched to a CVT and adds leather interior accents, an all-wheel drive system and multi-link rear end -- as opposed to the torsion beam on the front-hookers -- for $32,190.


The Juke launched internationally in 2010, so we’re getting a three-year-old model. The all-wheel drive system uses torque vectoring to transfer power front to rear and from left to right wheels and it works effectively at low and high speeds.

Three driving modes extend from sport to eco. In practise, there only needs to be two -- there’s not enough difference between sport and normal to justify not using sport and accepting the trade-off of extra weight through the wheel for extra response from the accelerator.


The outside of the Juke is all about attitude and standing out from the crowd. It achieves this with a bulbous front-end that defies convention by swapping around the lighting system. What look like big spots are in fact the headlamps, with the indicators and auxiliary lights positioned at the top of the bonnet. Depending on your styling perspective, it is radical or wrong. Either way, it differentiates the car from the pack.

The same can’t be said for the interior. If the centre console is “MotoGP-themed” it is from the CRT-end of the field. Hard, easy-to-scratch dash plastics aren’t class-leading and rear legroom is marginal for adults. Then again, the Juke will be aimed at couples and empty-nesters, with the Dualis (soon to be renamed Qashqai) and X-Trail assuming family responsibilites


The base model is a five-star car, rating at 33.03/37, according to ANCAP. The turbo versions haven’t been tested as yet, though it is safe to assume they’ll also earn a top ranking. Six airbags are standard, the brakes are solid and the car generally feels robust.


Taut suspension is normally an attribute Carsguide applauds. When it comes at the expense of ride compliance in what is effectively a jacked-up city car, it is a different issue. The ride is fidgety over relatively small ridges, like patched roads. That doesn’t bode well for the daily commute.

It gets better as the pace picks up and larger hits -- potholes and speed humps -- are handled with relative aplomb. The steering is direct, if having all the feedback of a monosyllabic teen and corner turn-in is surefooted.

The CVT-equipped models, like all of the breed, will drone under heavy throttle. It is less intrusive in the base model because there’s less power being transferred, so it seems to hover around 5000rpm rather than the 7000rpm it hits and holds onto in the turbo Ti-S.

Axle tramp and even a minor hit of torque steer is apparent on hard take-offs. The sum of the above make the Juke a fun ride, but probably not a car we’d want to keep in the garage.


As a design-driven vehicle, the Juke will have niche appeal. As a daily driver, the base model is a competitive package but I’d part with a few grand more and take the Hyundai ix35 or Kia Sportage over the top-of-the-line model.

Nissan Juke
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Resale: 50-54 per cent
Service intervals: 6 months/10,000km
Capped servicing: Yes
Safety: 5-stars (ST)
Engines: 1.6L 4-cylinder, 86kW/158Nm; 1.6L turbo 4-cylinder, 140kW/240Nm
Transmissions: 5-speed manual (ST), 6-speed manual (ST-S), CVT (ST, Ti-S)
Thirst: 6.0L-7.4L/100km (95 RON), 139-169g/km CO2
Dimensions: 4.14m (L), 1.77m (W), 1.57m (H)
Weight: 1166kg-1374kg
Spare: Space-saver

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Range and Specs

ST (fwd) 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $7,995 – 10,890 2013 Nissan Juke 2013 ST (fwd) Pricing and Specs
ST-S (fwd) 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $11,995 – 13,999 2013 Nissan Juke 2013 ST-S (fwd) Pricing and Specs
Ti-S (AWD) 1.6L, PULP, CVT AUTO $11,500 – 16,790 2013 Nissan Juke 2013 Ti-S (AWD) Pricing and Specs