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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Nissan Juke

Overall verdict
The looks might be polarising but it's not actually ugly and certainly not – bigger crime – bland


Distinctive looks, rich interior, undemanding to drive


Hatches ride and handle better


What is it?

The Nissan Juke was a pioneer when it launched nine years ago. It packed the attitude and altitude of a crossover, and out-there styling, all shrunk into a supermini’s length span. It sold like crazy from the start to the end of its life. Here’s the new one. Different in very many ways, but the spirit is supposed to remain.

OK, what was the first Juke’s spirit? It was about style, and it was impractical without being sporty. A latter-day Ford Capri 1300.

In the years after its arrival, most manufacturers launched small crossovers and we lazily called them ‘Juke rivals’ because the Juke had been about the first. But they weren’t rivals because they weren’t as useless. You could swing a cat in them. Not like the first Juke. Its driving position was hunched, its back seat cramped and dark, and its boot little more than a rear-mounted glovebox.

The new one is much bigger inside. Grown-ups can fit in the back. The boot is bigger, and you get to it via a decent-size hatch aperture.

Nissan could have chosen to achieve this the lazy way: make the Juke much bigger and boxier. Like its so-called rivals. Trouble is that would have made it heavier and less city-friendly. Admirably, Nissan didn’t; the increase in length is actually rather smaller than the 10cm growth in wheelbase. So it’s still short enough to be easily parked. And it’s lighter.

The new dimensions shove the wheels further to the corners, an effect boosted by their hugeness. The upper specs have 19s as standard. The designers love that, but from a dynamic point of view it’s bogus. Have a look through the spokes. If you only need that little brake, you don’t need this much tyre.

The design is modernised and takes advantage of the stronger stance, yet has lost none of the sheer chutzpah of the old one. The front still has those big round eyes, but their lighting function is no longer circular, rather a trefoil LED. A giant arrowhead is imprinted into the front doorskin. The roof, contrast-toned if you choose, has a channel stamped down the centre. Rear door-handles are tucked behind the windows. The back numberplate and badge live in a huge hexagonal plinth. Yet this craziness does somehow cohere.

Under it all the Juke shares much with the Micra and Renault Clio, but is built in Sunderland. The only engine is a three-cylinder petrol, the only driven wheels the fronts. It’s an essentially flippant car, so it doesn’t bother with diesel or 4WD. There’s no longer this gooey CVT, the auto option being a DCT.

Nissan talks of better refinement, cabin quality and tech too. Let’s see.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.5 dCi Bose Personal Edition 5dr
11.2s 123g/km 60.1 110 £20,620
The cheapest
1.6 Visia 5dr
12.5s 157g/km 40.9 112 £14,935
The greenest
1.0 DiG-T Acenta 5dr DCT
11.1s 110g/km 58.9 117 £20,190