Nissan Juke Tekna+ long-term test (2020) review | CAR Magazine

Nissan Juke (2020) long-term test: the seven-month verdict

Published: 13 October 2020

► CAR lives with a v2.0 Juke
► Top-spec Tekna+ under the microscope
► Can the Juke keep up with competition?

I must be cursed; three years working at CAR and a second long-term test car with gearbox problems. The Juke’s shift action had worsened, with third gear becoming increasingly difficult to smoothly engage, a few days before it finally went pop. After a frustrated shake of the gearstick in neutral, an unwelcome ‘click’ meant something had come loose. I now found that first gear would engage but the action felt incredibly loose, while sixth vanished off the face of the earth.

Nissan recovered the car and investigated the issue, pointing to the gear-selector cable not being fully fixed in place and getting looser with use until, in my case, it went ping. Nissan also said that my car was one of the first Jukes to roll off the production line, with a spokesperson adding that ‘our technical team confirmed there were improvements to this process – following the very early-build cars – that eradicated the possibility of this occurrence in future production.’ Hopefully, then, anyone reading this who owns a second-gen Juke shouldn’t experience the same thing.

Meanwhile, Nissan offered me a replacement Juke – a lower-spec N-Connecta model in the same colour. Just the ticket, I thought – after months of griping about the 19-inch wheels on my Tekna+ car, I could try out the combination of 17s and balloon tyres to see how much of a difference it makes to the ride.

Juke N-Connecta

Turns out there’s… not much difference. It seems the Juke’s suspension is at the root of its jittery ride quality; the smaller wheels and fat tyres on the N-Connecta model certainly do round off the edges of bumps and ruts, but the car still hops and skips over them like it’s going for Olympic gold. Tyre noise at motorway speeds, too, is only negligibly better.

The cheaper car’s cockpit feels lower rent; plasticky ‘leather’ replaces the Tekna+’s alcantara dashboard, while the thinner seats devoid of Bose’s headrest speakers (the PersonalSpace tech is on Tekna and above) aren’t as supportive either. That’s the difference £3k makes.

Even without the gearbox problem, I was struggling to entirely warm to the Juke, and this spell in the N-Connecta version has done nothing to change this. Where once the Juke was (begrudgingly, to my eyes) a pioneer, a breath of fresh air, a bold and quirky carver of a new niche, the Mk2 no longer stands out in the category it did so much to establish. So, yes, the exterior styling is more pleasing to many, and the interior is more practical (and, on higher-spec cars, classier and cleverer), but too many of the fundamentals are lacking.

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), 38.9mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2 
Energy cost 12.8p per mile 
Miles this month 350
Total miles 5051

Month 6 living with a Nissan Juke: money where your mouth isn’t

Let’s do some maths. My top-spec Juke is £24,000 or, looking at leasing deals from Zen Auto, about £250 a month for a three-year, 10,000-mile deal at the time of writing. My question is, does the Juke present a compelling case for itself, given the big choice of other cars for similar money?

The Juke has some decent qualities going for it, not least its striking and actually-quite-handsome looks that have evolved from its Quasimodo-aping forebear. It has plenty of tech, like the headrest be-speakered Bose stereo system I keep banging on about, semi-autonomous driving assist tech and an interior filled with alcantara and sporty details. The 1.0-litre triple is boosty and characterful (if not particularly swift) and its luggage space is now among the best in its class.

But £24,000 is a hefty amount of dosh, and the competitiveness of the car leasing market means you can find some surprising alternatives. A Peugeot 2008 Allure Premium with the 99bhp petrol hovers around the same list price, a small SUV with a fantastic cockpit (and those futuristic 3D instruments), equally handsome looks and better ride quality than the Nissan. The Peugeot also came ahead of the Juke in our group test. That list price will also get you a laugh-a-minute five-door Ford Fiesta ST-2.

Juke LTT static

On the finance front, your options are even wilder. Similar deals could net you a BMW 2-series Gran Coupe in 218i Sport form, a new-generation Audi A3 35 TFSI Sport, a Mazda 3 with its innovative variable-compression Skyactiv-X engine or a VW Golf Mk8 in all-you-could-need Style spec with the 128bhp 1.5-litre TSI Evo engine (at the time of writing).

Bigger crossovers are available too. Remember Phil McNamara and Colin Overland’s recently-departed Citroën C5 Aircross and Seat Tarraco? Similar specs can be had for about £40 per month less than my Juke, at least in the Citroën’s case.

I can (sort of) understand the appeal in living with a Juke. But there are, logically, more practical, more sophisticated, more desirable or more fun cars for your money.

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), 31.5mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2 
Energy cost 16.2p per mile 
Miles this month 208
Total miles 4701

Month 5 living with a Nissan Juke: there’s an app for that

Seen that advert for the new Juke? The one with the bloke who has a Dr Evil-style lair under his house where his car is parked? No? Well, this dude uses his phone to send navigation data to the car, gets to his destination and locks the car without ever using the key or the navigation system. How does he do that? By using the NissanConnect app.

I mentioned this app when the Juke first arrived, as you can use it to not only lock/unlock the car but flash the lights and toot the horn – allowing for no end of potential capers involving a late-night tap of the phone screen and, if it’s the editor who’s taken it home, a P45 swiftly foisted my direction.

Juke LTT appBut there are some other clever uses: the app keeps an eye on how many miles you do, tracks where your car is (if you’re an amnesiac, or it was stolen) and, as mentioned above, you can fire over nav data to make your life one per cent smoother that particular day. A lot of these services are free for so many years, then you’ll have to pay up, and there’s technically an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot just waiting for you to pay £9 for 2GB (for two days). Ouch.

I don’t use it that much. Why would I? I have keyless entry, a brain that works normally and Android Auto. And the app itself is laggy – so much so that the Android version has plenty of one-star reviews on Google Play. Maybe this is a time that looking clever hasn’t quite worked for Nissan.

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), 37.0mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2 
Energy cost 14.0p per mile 
Miles this month 228
Total miles 4493

Month 4 living with a Nissan Juke: interior gripes…

Juke Jake driving

Driving position: great. Seats: comfy. Stereo: continues to be awesome. But the glossy touchscreen masks only an okay-ish infotainment system that’s fraught with odd and sometimes annoying foibles.

First off is the traffic announcements – you know, the ones that interrupt your music to tell you about a traffic jam 30 miles away in the wrong direction? It’s the 21st century: use Waze or Google Maps – I don’t care that there’s congestion in the Outer Hebrides. It took several attempts to find out how to switch them off permanently, and I have no idea how I did it, as the settings layout is confusing.

When driving into the office car park (and other dead-end roads), the nav tells me, without fail, that it’s a ‘road with restricted access’. I know that. It’s a car park. Duh.

Then there’s just the low-rent feel of it all; your touches make a ‘click’ sound like the system’s running Windows 95, the sat-nav graphics are basic and the screen lags too far behind your inputs.

Nissan was very clever to make the screen bright, glossy and easy to reach. But when you actually engage with the infotainment, you’re mostly left frustrated. Fortunately, Android Auto has my back, even if the touchscreen’s lag still manages to spoil what is a very usable phone-based infotainment alternative.

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), 37.4mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2 
Energy cost 16.6p per mile 
Miles this month 1192
Total miles 4265

Month 3 living with a Nissan Juke: in bits

The Juke’s headlight system is pretty sweet. During the day, those slim eyebrows and Y-shaped graphics just look cool on the road, while the LED headlights at night are some of the best available at this price. A set of LED indicators would have been nice, though.

Juke LTT gearshift

Paradigm shift
I’d argue the Juke’s shift action is one of the nicest aspects of its driving experience, but not everyone agrees. Cockpit quirkiness means its housing (and other dashboard contours) are bathed in warm light like you’re riding the orange guy’s bike in Tron.

Juke LTT alcantara

Touch me, feel me
Speccing the Tekna+ pack means the leather dashboard and inserts are swapped for alcantara. I can’t stop stroking it like a man possessed. It’s damning the Juke with faint praise to say this is the best Nissan interior I’ve sat in, but it’s true.

Juke LTT wheel

All for show
‘Look at me! I’ve got black bits and diamond cut bits, and millions of spokes!’
Yes, wheels, this is true – but you’re massive, so you make life onboard unnecessarily jittery. I wonder what the smaller wheels on the N-Connecta are like…

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), 37.2mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2 
Energy cost 16.3p per mile 
Miles this month 736
Total miles 3073

Month 2 living with a Nissan Juke: pump up the volume

juke headrest

When it came to deciding what sort of equipment our Juke should have, the Personal Plus in-headrest speaker system was a must-have; luckily it’s standard on Tekna trim and above. I first tested it on a Micra for our Does It Work series and, since then, it’s evolved into a system that works for the driver and front passenger.

The heavy-bass house and EDM music on my playlists sounds epic, almost like I’m standing next to a massive speaker unit in a nightclub. At the other end of the scale, editor Ben Miller says when listening to podcasts or talk shows it’s like being whispered to from behind. It completely takes over your personal space, in a good way.

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), 36.6mpg (tested), 118g/km CO2 
Energy cost 16.5p per mile 
Miles this month 1229
Total miles 2337

Month 1 living with a Nissan Juke: put another dime in the Juke-box, baby

Juke LTT hello

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.

Nissan Juke LTT rear cornering

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.

Nissan Juke LTT Jake driving

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

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches