► CAR lives with a v2.0 Juke
► First one sold on style...
► ...the second gen has plenty of rivals
Hate isn't a word I chuck around that often, but there were few current cars I disliked more than the first-generation Juke. It looked horrid, it was impractical, its driving position was awkward, it was dead to drive and, despite its kooky details, the interior and the technology embedded in it felt a step behind so many cars, not least those that its sales success inspired.
Nissan says that when the Juke Mk1 went on sale in 2010, it faced only two rivals; now there are 24. The ever-growing demand for small-ish crossovers meant that even with that huge influx of attractive alternatives, Nissan still sold one million of them in nine years – the UK being by far the biggest market.
So, one way and another, the new Juke had better be good. In the big crossover picture, it's facing a much more competitive market than its predecessor did a decade ago. And, personally, I'm not convinced the small-ish crossover is an intrinsically exciting style of car, not helped by the fact that I'm still missing my last car, the Audi R8. Plenty of pressure, then.
I went direct to the source to get the keys: Nissan's Technical Centre in Bedfordshire, where the Juke's development and engineering took place. The new Juke is arguably the most British non-Brit car on sale right now; it was designed at Nissan's studio in Paddington, engineered here and built in Sunderland. By my reckoning, that makes it more British than the Jaguar E-Pace, built in Austria.
To business. My new car has a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine with 115bhp and 133lb ft (148lb ft on overboost) and a six-speed manual gearbox. It's in armed-to-the-teeth Tekna+ grade and the only option is the paint scheme: a two-tone Fuji Sunset Red and Pearl Black combo. At this dizzy height in the trim range, Jukes come with personalisation packs inside and out on top of the Tekna's Advanced Safety Shield Pack (360º parking camera, blind spot intervention, ProPILOT adaptive cruise and more), the Heat Pack (heated windscreen and front seats) and the Bose PersonalPlus audio system with headrests in the speakers – perfect for an audiophile like me. I actually prefer the Tekna's wheels to the Tekna+ – they look like something you'd see on a Urus, rather than the spindly rims on mine.
With a few hundred miles under my belt, the Juke and I are getting along fine. The Bose system is a knockout and this is by far the best Nissan interior I've ever sat in, in terms of build quality and general style. There's alcantara everywhere, the round vents are neat and the seats are comfy. Nissan has made an effort to improve its infotainment system and it's... okay. The screen is glossy and looks sharp, but it lags sometimes and I'm still trying to figure out how to switch a couple of things off. Good job Android Auto is included.
On the road, it's give and take. The steering is impressively weighted and direct, and the driving position is so much better than before, but that wobbly three-cylinder isn't exactly punchy. The biggest niggle is the wheels – they're too big for a small family crossover, giving a lumpy ride in town and above-average tyre noise on the motorway.
In the meantime, I've installed the NissanConnect app to activate services such as remote locking and unlocking with your phone, or flashing the lights and tooting the horn if you've lost it in the car park. The temptation to do that outside a colleague's house if they've borrowed it is high. Must... resist...
By Jake Groves
Logbook: Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T Tekna+
Price £23,895 (£24,065 as tested)
Performance 999cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 115bhp, 10.3sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 45.6mpg (official), 35.8mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.7p per mile
Miles this month 682
Total miles 1108