Its official, the mini SUV is a success in India. First it was the Renault Duster and now it’s the Mahindra Quanto. Nissan will to be launching their own version of the Duster but what interests us more is the fact that the Japanese manufacturer is seriously considering to bring the Juke. The Juke is smaller to the Qashqai and is aimed as a stylish and versatile option to premium hatchbacks and sedans. The Juke showcases the modern face of Nissan and is aimed at the younger lot. Though it is not known when Nissan is planning to launch the Juke we expect that to be only by 2014. The Juke is a more premium vehicle than the Duster and will be priced at around 10lakhs onwards which puts it in competition with the Ford Ecosport. The Duster’s success has also prompted Volkswagen to work on a similar car which the German manufacturer is considering to launch in the next couple of years. The VW based mini SUV could be based on the Polo.
There certainly are those who think that Nissan has gone overboard with the styling of the Juke but there is no doubting that the styling on the Juke makes it a one of its kind vehicle. The design is fit for a concept car with its stylish headlamps and the high placed front fog lamps. From the front bumper, the sump guard to the front grille, the Juke is sure to turn heads wherever you go. The actual headlights are placed on the bumper and the turn indicators are placed on the bonnet which actually look like the headlights. The wheel arches are prominent, at the rear are the boomerang looking tail lamps and from the side catching your attention is the rising waistline. The Juke is dramatic look to say the least and is for the buyer who is looking to flaunt his car and get noticed wherever he goes.
The interior aren’t as concept car like but the cabin nevertheless is miles ahead of what is offered on similarly priced hatchbacks or sedans. The centre console and the instrument cluster look great and the two dials on the instrument cluster are surrounded in aluminium. The high mounted centre console has a glossy paint to it and is designed to look like a petrol tank and in the top of the line model the metallic paint is replaced by the body colour. Standard features include alloy wheels, an air con while leather upholstery, a reverse camera and keyless start is available only on the top of the line variant.
Space for front and rear passengers is good and the overall build quality is up to the mark. Nissan has added chrome to the door handles, the steering wheel is in leather and on the middle and top of the range model the Juke gets the Nissan Dynamic Control System which controls the climate system amongst other things.
The steering adjusts for height and the seats are comfortable. The boot space of 251-litres is good and can be increased with the 60/40 split rear seats.
The Juke comes with 2 engine options and the petrol motor is available in two power versions. The 1.6-litre petrol comes with a 115PS version and there is also a turbocharged version producing 192PS. While the turbo version accelerates to 100kmph in around 8seconds the other version takes 3seconds more.
The 1.5-litre diesel is the same trusted engine from Renault which produces 110PS and accelerates to100kmph in just over 11seconds. Refinement is more than decent but when you first crank the engine there is diesel clatter. The torque spread gives the Juke good drivability and the fuel efficiency is expected to be high.
The Juke is a tall car and the manufacturer has added stiff anti roll bars to it. There is both a front wheel drive and a 4WD version of the Juke. The driving experience is the Juke’s strength and despite the tall ride height the body control is good. The ride is comfortable too and passengers are well taken care of. The steering unfortunately lacks feel and the top of the line variant also has sports mode.
The Renault Duster has been a success because of the value it offers. The styling makes it look like a proper SUV, interior space is sufficient for 5 grown adults and the diesel engine which is offered in 2 power version is refined, efficient and not lacking in performance either. Ford will be launching the Ecosport next year and Hyundai too could launch the ix20 which is their version of a mini SUV.
The Juke is based on the Renault Nissan B platform and though the styling may not be to the liking of everyone, there is no denying that it looks great and distinct. The front might look a bit odd but is eye catching. The interiors are a bit simpler and have a distinct character of their own and are spacious. The petrol and diesel engine get the job done well and the turbo charged 1.6-litre engine is fun on the road. The mini SUV/crossover rides well and the handling is strong too with good body control. Though this isn’t much of an off roader, the handling is poised. The Juke is priced more than the Duster but then it is a more premium vehicle, is better engineered and the overall quality is a step higher too. Given the success of the Duster it’s clear that the Indian customer is looking for a vehicle which offers the versatility of a utility vehicle while not compromising the practicality of a sedan and the Juke delivers in both these areas.
Quotes from other cars:
Autocar UK: ‘However, the sense of fun is heightened by a stylish interior that’s very different to anything else out there. It’s well-appointed, too, which adds to the sense of value the Juke gives you. Even the entry-level car is decently equipped for the money, while Acenta and Tekna models offer impressive kit levels at a competitive price. Running costs are pretty reasonable, too.
Is the Juke for us? We found ourselves liking the Juke a lot. Interior plastics and numb steering count against it, but against that it’s good value and will be cheap to run. Best of all, it’s good to see a volume car maker daring to be different and making it work. The only worry is what will happen when the novelty value wears off. There are timeless designs. And there’s the Nissan Juke.’