- Up to 40 per cent improved fuel economy
- Hybrid system always starts in EV mode
- First deliveries expected summer 2022
Nissan has finally bitten the bullet and launched a hybrid version of the Juke. The move means the niche-carving compact crossover finally has an answer for the likes of the Ford Puma hybrid and the all-new, hybrid-only Honda HR-V.
The Juke’s new hybrid system was a bit of a collaborative project, with Nissan calling on its Alliance partner Renault for help. The powertrain is built around a 93bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 48bhp electric motor, both of which send drive through a new, low-friction automatic gearbox that was specifically designed for use in hybrid applications.
Nissan pinched the fancy new gearbox from Renault, along with a 15kW starter-generator, a power inverter and a 1.2kWh battery pack. The gearbox is particularly unusual, as Nissan says it features ‘four ICE gears’ and ‘two EV gears’ – and there’s a clever piece of software that recognises whether the powertrain is running on petrol power, electric power or a mix of the two systems to select the right gear for the job.
Surely that’s enough technology?
You would think – but if that wasn’t complicated enough, the gearbox also doesn’t have a clutch or a torque converter. Instead, the Juke hybrid always starts in EV mode, and the powertrain’s two electric motors work to synchronise the cogs to the road speed and keep the shifts smooth. The electric motor can even power the car by itself until you reach 34mph.
It all sounds very overly engineered – but Nissan is adamant that its hybrid system will deliver results. The brand is yet to push the Juke hybrid through WLTP homologation, but it claims a combined fuel economy figure of 54mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 118g/km.
Speaking more generally, Nissan says its new hybrid system can slash fuel consumption by 40 per cent around town and up to 20 per cent overall, when compared to a normal, petrol-powered Juke.
Also, like the pure-electric Nissan Leaf, the Juke hybrid features the company’s one-pedal driving mode. So, when you lift your foot off the throttle, the car’s regenerative braking mode kicks in to claw back the energy that would otherwise be wasted, and stores it in the battery pack for later. Think of it like KERS for shopping trips.
The e-Pedal system is so powerful, that the driver should only need to step on the brakes in the event of an emergency or when coming to a complete halt. The system should work great in slow moving traffic, too, as it can decellerate the car to a crawl speed of 3mph.
There’s a catch, isn’t there?
Unfortunately so. But you can’t have it all – especially when you consider that this hybrid system has essentially been retro-fitted to a vehicle that’s three years into its life cycle. Once you get to the shops, you might find you need to curb your spending, as the Juke hybrid’s boot is quite a bit smaller than the standard car’s.
The battery pack and electrical gubbins had to go somewhere – and the only space Nissan had available was under the boot floor, which has carved out 68 litres of storage space and dropped the car’s seats-up capacity to 354 litres. Stow the bench, though, and capacity increases to 1,237 litres, which Nissan says is still class-leading.
How will anyone know that I’m driving a hybrid?
Well, Nissan has made a few tweaks to the Juke’s styling to set it apart from the rest of the crossover’s line-up. There are some new hybrid badges for the front doors and tailgate – and buyers can specify a set of 19-inch alloy wheels which have been styled to look like those on the brand’s newest electric car, the Ariya.
It’s not all eco-conscious virtue-signalling, though. Nissan’s revisions have some genuine aerodynamic benefits, which help the powertrain eke the most amount of mileage from a gallon of petrol. The hybrid model gets a new rear spoiler, for example, which is slightly less aggressive than the petrol car’s to clean up the airflow at the rear of the car.
There’s also a new radiator grille with an active shutter, some new winglets ahead of the front wheels and some fresh undertrays beneath the front bumper and the rear axle, which smooth out the turbulent air passing under the vehicle and help to reduce drag.