Suzuki Vitara VS Nissan Juke
- Good interior space
- Reasonably priced
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Lack of advanced safety
- Spacious cabin and large cargo area
- Cool styling
- Advanced safety tech
- Dual-clutch auto isn't the smoothest
- No all-wheel drive variant
- No manual transmission
Suzuki's much-loved Vitara returned in 2015 and it was a happy day for people over a certain age. Over the years, Suzuki has tweaked and trimmed the range, ditching the diesel (much to the chagrin of towing fans) and leaving us with three Vitaras with the subtly updated 2019 model - the entry-level, the Turbo and the Turbo Allgrip.
The entry-level Vitara is a lot of car for the money but there is a small catch - instead of the excellent 1.4-litre turbo engine of the other two, it ships with a 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated engine that has significantly less power than anything else in the segment.
That doesn't seem to bother the target market, though - the base Vitara is by far the biggest seller in the range.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
|Engine Type||1.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
It's frustrating that the Vitara is a good car fitted with such a weak engine. It's got great interior space for less money than a Qashqai, a big boot and some nice touches.
The ledger for the base model Vitara is more balanced than the higher grades. While the turbo-engined machines get along very nicely, the ride and handling are great and all the Vitara's strengths are magnified, the entry-level struggles against similarly-priced competition.
The Vitara Turbo is the one to get if you can stretch to it. The Vitara isn't ruined by this engine, but it is compromised.
Is engine power a big deal for you? Or is the Vitara's lack of pace and refinement secondary to its undeniable charms? Let us know in the comments below.
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.
Is the Juke the car that's going to lead Nissan's comeback? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Not everyone is a fan of the new Vitara's looks, but I am. Most of the colours are fairly vivid and everyone seems to buy it in metallic green, so it was nice to have it in this grey/silver (optional) colour.
The chrome grille can be a little bit much, but I really like the purposeful, chunky profile. Wasn't sure about the new rear lights at first, but as I said in the Allgrip review, they had already grown on me.
The Vitara's interior isn't going to win any materials quality awards, but it seems like it will last a long time. There's nothing amazing about it apart from the fact it's roomy and everything looks and feels honest.
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.
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.
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.'
Passenger space in the Vitara is excellent for a compact SUV. Part of the reason back seat occupants do so well is because the roof is high, the doors aren't very thick and the seat is a long way off the floor, meaning the distance between the front and rear seats isn't made smaller by angled legs. It's comfortable, too.
Which is lucky because you won't have anywhere to put your drinks or phones or your inboard elbows, which is a shame.
Front seat passengers have somewhere to put their elbows and there are two cupholders. All four doors have a bottle holder.
The boot has a false floor under which you can hide a decent amount of stuff, including small bags. Its volume starts at a decent 375 litres (beaten only by Honda's HR-V and Nissan's Qashqai). Drop the rear seats and space increases to 1120 litres.
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).
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).
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.
Price and features
Engine aside, there is much to like about the base model Vitara - in fact any Vitara - and this one is a pretty decent $24,990.
That lands you, all the way from (somewhat unexpectedly) Hungary, 17-inch alloys, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, sat nav, leather steering wheel, cloth trim, power windows, four-speaker stereo and a space-saver spare.
That four-speaker stereo is run from the same touchscreen found in pretty much every Suzuki. The basic software is okay but the hardware itself is a bit iffy. Cleverly (and unlike Toyota), Suzuki knew an easy fix for that is to throw in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sorted.
The Juke line-up has four grades starting with the ST, which has a list price of $27,990. Above that is the ST+ for $30,740, then the ST-L for $33,940, and at the top-of-the-range is the $36,490 Ti.
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 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.
Engine & trans
The 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated engine in the base Vitara wheezes up just 86kW and 156Nm, easily the least-powerful in its class, and by some margin.
I often joke that it's almost like there is legislation about how much power a compact SUV must have. The Vitara is proof there isn't. The $29,990 Turbo has 102kW/220Nm, for comparison.
As with the turbo cars, the 1.6 has a proper six-speed automatic driving the front wheels. You can also get a five-speed manual for $23,990. Luckily it weighs bugger-all at 1180kg.
The Vitara offers 1200kg towing for braked trailers and 400kg unbraked.
In Australia, our Jukes have a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 84kW/180Nm with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sending drive to the front wheels. That's right, no manual gearbox and no all-wheel drive.
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.
The non-turbo Vitara clocks up an official combined cycle fuel consumption rating of 6.0L/100km, 0.1L/100km worse than the Turbo.
My week with the car saw an indicated 9.2L/100km which is almost a litre worse than the Turbo Allgrip I last tested, and a whole lot less fun.
Nissan says over an open and urban road cycle the Juke will use 5.8L/100km. That's impressively fuel efficient.
I didn't have a chance to fuel test the Juke at the launch, but you can bet we will when the car arrives in the CarsGuide garage soon.
Also, the Juke will need a minimum of 95 RON premium unleaded.
As has been the case since the Vitara's re-emergence a few years ago, it's a good car to drive. Light steering, supple ride and good body control mean progress is smooth and, if you're going downhill, fun.
For a modern car, it's a featherweight, but without the bounciness of some other cars of this weight. It's also quite maneuverable and is unexpectedly slim, meaning you can thread it around easily and it's not a bother in car parks or tight city streets.
It's good on urban streets, too, because it soaks up bumps and lumps very well.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Vitara is a good car. But in this spec, it's a good car with a deeply ordinary engine.
It's noisy, which wouldn't matter except to get anything like decent movement, you have to rev it. If you use anything more than quarter throttle - and you really have to - the transmission kicks down to try and find the scraps of torque on offer. It might be light, but the torque figure just isn't enough to move the Vitara with any urgency.
The base Vitara is slow and noisy and from that perspective is no match for its similarly-priced competition. Compounded by a lack of refinement from both engine and transmission, it highlights what a good engine is the 1.4-litre turbo.
The Vitara is slow and noisy, and from that perspective is no match for its similarly-priced competition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Suzuki offers a three year/100,000km warranty, but there's a small catch. If you continue to service it at Suzuki dealer every six months/10,000km, you're extended to five years/100,000km. That seems like a decent deal.
Somehow, the 1.6 costs more to service than the more complex 1.4-litre turbo, working out at an average $516 per year over the first 60 months.
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.