If the new Juke wore a Volkswagen rather than Nissan badge, would we cut it some slack for seemingly steep prices?
After all, it kicks off from $27,990 (before on-road costs) for the base ST, and that’s nearly $4000 over Hyundai's dinky Venue Active, nearly $3000 above the ageing Mazda CX-3 Neo Sport and $1000 more than the spanking-new Toyota Yaris Cross auto equivalents.
As the cliché goes, though, there’s more here than meets the eye.
For starters, the Juke is built in the UK primarily for its adoring European market. This fact is evident in the surprisingly pleasing quality finishes found inside, as well as the efficiency-prioritising, small-capacity three-cylinder turbo and dual-clutch transmission powertrain underneath.
So, maybe it’s best and fairest to compare Nissan’s English import with similarly-priced Euros, and autos at that, since no manual is currently offered, sadly.
Let's see... there's the Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Life DSG and its Skoda Kamiq 85TSI DSG fraternal twin (both also from $27,990), Ford's box-fresh Puma from $29,990, the new Juke’s coming kissing-cousin Renault Captur II – out soon – that's set to also start from around $30K, the equally all-new and highly-specified Peugeot 2008 Allure 1.2T from $34,990, and even BMW's Mini Countryman Cooper Classic from $44,500.... why not, given it’s also a style-driven Brit.
That’s a motley group of Continental compact crossovers if ever there was one.
Secondly, the ST is far from bare in there, brandishing the urban safety stuff you need (including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, traffic-sign recognition, hill-start assist, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors), as well as the good gear you want.
With an 8.0-inch touchscreen offering voice recognition, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, CD player (yes!), paddle-shifters, manual air-con, cruise control with speed limiter, a part-digital instrumentation display, electric folding mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels, even the entry-level Juke seems mid-spec, bar one glaring omission: no wireless smartphone charger – a curious misstep for such a freshly-hatched SUV so obviously targeting techie urbanites.
Still, in contrast, almost all entry-level rivals look or feel stark and sparse inside and out, but not the ST.
Our test car ended up being the $30,740 ST+, so that’s plus digital radio (essential nowadays), plus satellite navigation (less so), plus heated front seats, plus automatic air-con, plus LED foglights and plus front parking sensors – but still minus that wireless charger. Oh well. Collectively, all make the Plus feel comparatively plush for the extra coin. Stepping up to the ST-L and flagship Ti add $3200 and $5750 to our Juke’s price respectively. Premium paint (as per our vehicle) costs another $595.
This is a solid start for the baby Nissan SUV’s quest for Aussie acceptance.