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Nissan Juke set for Australia

Change of mind on funky Juke as Nissan prepares for 2013 launch of compact SUV

17 Jul 2012

NISSAN Australia appears to have changed its mind again on the Juke compact SUV and is set to bring the distinctive crossover vehicle here next year.

Only seven months ago, then president Dan Thompson told GoAuto he had finally decided against taking the current-model Juke after considering no fewer than three business plans, but it seems that his replacement, Bill Peffer, has taken a different stance on the vehicle.

Mr Peffer, who was previously Nissan North America marketing communications director, saw first-hand the success of the Pulsar-based Juke in that market and is said to be a fan of the global success story.

The British-built Juke appeared briefly in a 45-second Nissan Australia TV commercial titled “What if” that aired for the first time on Sunday night, which almost certainly means it has been written into the local product plan.

Nissan Australia public affairs manager Jeff Fisher told GoAuto that Mr Peffer had an influence on the change in thinking, along with the vehicle’s global sales success.

“We want to have another look at it and we are having another look,” he said.

“We would like to see the Juke in the product mix – it’s just a matter of how much it costs and where it fits into the schedule.”

12 center imageLeft: The UK Nissan Juke.

Mr Fisher said price negotiations were taking place with Nissan in the UK and Japan, where Juke is also built in right-hand drive.

He indicated that 2013 was the most likely launch timing.

Only last December, Mr Thompson told GoAuto we “won’t be getting this generation of Juke” despite “at least three different cracks at studying” the vehicle for this market.

Juke was designed specifically for the European market and has become something of a youth-oriented icon since it was revealed as a concept at the Geneva motor show in March 2009 and as a production car a year later.

It was released in Europe, Japan and the United States in 2010, and is also sold in New Zealand.

In the first half of this year, the Juke helped Nissan gain 5.0 per cent in the depressed European market and, together with the fellow UK-built Qashqai (which comes here as the Dualis) sold 40,000 in June alone, representing a 23 per cent increase.

US sales have also been strong, rising 52.7 per cent in June over the same month last year to 3101 sales, bringing its first-half total to 18,728, an increase of 7.2 per cent.

Built on the same platform as the forthcoming new-generation Pulsar, the Juke is powered by a range of engines, including a 1.6-litre petrol developing 86kW and 158Nm, a 1.5-litre diesel producing 81kW and 240Nm, and a performance model with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol unit pushing out 140kW and 240Nm.

It is sold in both front-wheel-drive and part-time all-wheel-drive forms, with manual and automatic (CVT) transmissions.

It would provide a funky alternative in the growing small-SUV market segment (which rose some 68.0 per cent in the first half of 2012) alongside the more conservative Dualis, sales of which grew 37.5 per cent to overtake the Hyundai ix35 and become the top-selling vehicle in the segment.

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