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Driven: Nissan Juke honed to buyers’ tastes

Juke of Sunderland: Nissan's Juke has had a mild facelift bringing tweaked looks and updated technology.

Fewer models, all-turbo manuals and more personalisation boosts Nissan’s Juke

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Nissan logo24 Apr 2015

NISSAN has refreshed its controversially styled Juke compact SUV with a raft of improvements and unique features, that the company hopes will push it front and centre of buyers’ shortlists.

On sale now from $23,490 plus on-road costs, the base ST 2WD front-wheel drive manual is $1400 more expensive than its immediate predecessor, but gains significantly more torque thanks to a 1.2-litre turbo engine that replaces the 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated unit.

The updated version also gains fuel-saving stop/start technology, daytime driving lights, door-mirror indicator repeaters, tyre-pressure monitoring, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Its subtly altered nose features boomerang-shaped headlights with LEDs, restyled bumpers and revised tail-light lenses, while the cabin has been enhanced with a redesigned centre console.

A 40 per cent larger boot addresses one of the previous Juke’s biggest flaws – at least in 2WD models, and thanks to a redesigned rear floor area, it now measures in at 354 litres.

However, the facelifted ST 2WD automatic that Nissan says will again be the best-selling variant is stuck with the carry-over 1.6-litre unit, though it does gain all the other spec and functionality advancements, for the same price as before - $24,490.

The mid-range ST-S 2WD 1.6-litre turbo manual now scores a Ti-S badge and extra equipment such as Xenon headlights, DAB+ digital radio, Smartphone application connectivity, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, Moving Object Detection and an Around-View Monitor with rear-view camera as part of Nissan’s ‘Safety Shield’ system, but costs $1300 more at $29,790.

Finally, the $33,490 Ti-S CVT AWD all-wheel drive benefits from the above updates (except for the bigger boot – its cargo area remains at a paltry 207L), for a $1000 price increase.

Sourced from alliance partner Renault, the Juke ST 2WD’s 1.2-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine offers 85kW of power (1kW down on the old 1.6L ST manual) at 4500rpm and 190Nm of torque at 2000rpm.

Driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, the smallest engined version uses 5.6 litres of fuel per 100km (down 0.4L) and emits 129g/km of carbon dioxide.

The 1.6L with CVT produces 86kW at 6000rpm and 158Nm at 4000rpm and returns fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km and 145g/km. The naturally aspirated four-cylinder is a Euro-4 emissions-rated engine compared with the others’ Euro-5 rating. All require 95 RON premium unleaded petrol.

Moving on to the1.6-litre direct-injection turbo in the Ti-S brings a healthy 140kW at 5600rpm and 240Nm from 1600-5200rpm, for a 6.0L/100km (AWD: 6.5L/100kg) and 139g/km (AWD: 153g/km) result.

The forced-induction four-pot features stronger low-rev torque responses, Nissan claims, due to a compression ratio lift from 9.5 to 10.5:1, employing better low-friction technologies and cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).

On-demand all-wheel drive offers up to 50:50 front/rear torque split as well as a torque vectoring system for reduced understeer and better traction.

The Ti-S AWD CVT’s automatic transmission has a greater spread of gear ratios that benefits both low-speed acceleration and high-speed cruising, while up to 40 per cent less internal friction improves efficiency.

Based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance B-car platform, the Juke is related to the current Nissan Micra, Renault Clio and Captur, though the latter’s rear architecture has been completely redesigned as it does not accommodate drive gear.

Launching in Europe in 2010, global Juke sales have hit the half million unit mark, but Australia’s response to the compact SUV has been far more tepid since its October 2013 release, with 4273 vehicles finding homes.

With the perky base 1.2-turbo engine, improved technology and some additional dealer-fit colour-coded personalisation appliqués for customisation, Nissan is planning to boost the Juke’s appeal in the compact SUV market above the 235 monthly average it achieved last year.

Sales are already up nearly 20 per cent year-on-year for the first three months of 2015.

All locally bound Jukes are sourced from the United Kingdom factory in Sunderland.

Nissan Juke pricing*
ST 2WD $23,490
ST 2WD (a) $24,490
Ti-S 2WD $29,790
Ti-S AWD (a) $33,490
*Excludes on-road costs.

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