Despite of being in the industry for as many years as its competitors such as Honda and Toyota, Nissan Motors sure hasn’t enjoyed similar limelight in the market. But after creeping in the shadows (fans please don’t kill me for this!) for more than 2 decades they have finally come up as a brand that enjoys a decent demand in the Philippines. They also own the affordable car brand Datsun, which is also doing surprisingly good in various regions such as China, India and Asia-Pacific. Their distinctive approach to vehicular design along with some of the most smooth driving cars have helped them secure a respectable position in the market. As the global automotive industry has dedicated this year in the development of Sports Utility Vehicles, it would be unfair if such a high selling brand would not surprise its fans. Their crossover model, Nissan Juke has been one of the most marketed vehicle’s in the company’s fleet and has picked up a lot of enthusiasm from buyers.
In the flood of crossovers and sports utility vehicles from various brands, it is surely a tough task to stand out. But being the masters at creating some of the most distinctive car designs, it would be unfair if we got so see another conventional design. The Juke certainly doesn’t disappoint in this aspect as it totally looks unlike any other Crossover or sports utility model offered by Nissan’s competitors. Present only in single variant for the Philippines, it offers a totally fresh look on the much highlighted vehicle segment along with superb handling as compared to other vehicles.
Now, talking about the vehicle’s position in the country, we know it will not be able to outmarket the Philippine love for sedans. Nevertheless, its highly attractive styling and compact design will certainly help it perform much better than the other SUV models in the country.
So if you have been dying to try your hands on the latest Nissan Juke Crossover and cannot, this test ride review will help you understand how the vehicle actually performs for a new buyer.
If you cannot love a vehicle for its exteriors, there’s no point of entering it. Although this is a personal theory of mine, but it seems that the designers at Nissan have been thinking on the same lines. The Juke’s design demands immediate attention and thankfully not in a weird manner. I saw the vehicle’s launch pictures in the country and other pictures, which had its black-obsidian body color and wasn’t that impressed. But as the Juke was presented to me in its highly sporty yellow color, although i'm not a big fan of such color tones (yellow looks best on a Beetle) but I was surprised how great the color brought out the vehicle’s curves giving it a cute yet extremely radical look much like the classic Italian sports cars. Its front fascia looks really impressive with its narrow front grille that is accented with chrome in the middle with the company emblem in the center. But the most striking aspect is the twin headlamp cluster.
While small round headlamps are placed right beneath the front grille, the turn indicator and a second set of headlamps are placed directly atop the hood making the vehicle stand out from the conventionally designed models in the market. The lower air intake is presented with an alternating black color that gives a dose of sportiness to the car’s curvy design. The vehicle is also provided with a body kit, that provides a buffed up appearance while shortening the uncomfortable gap between the tyres and wheel arches. This also helps the Juke to look extremely stylish from the sides with an invisible rear door handle that has been shifted to a more concealed position near the C-pillar. The vehicle appears as impressive from the rear as its front with the stylish taillamps that flow seamlessly alongside the rear hatch and follow the same design aesthetics as the hood lamps. With so much attention to detail in the car’s exteriors, the rear bumper totally overkills with its marvellous honeycomb mesh design on either sides and a chromed up tailpipe. Looking at so many distinctive features on the Juke’s exteriors, this is certainly one of the best looking SUV/Crossovers one can find in the market.
With such a cute, sporty and futuristic exterior design, you don’t want to enter a vehicle that looks anything less than a spaceship. This might sound like we’ve set our expectations a bit high for a car but Nissan surely didn’t disappoint me as I slid on the driver’s seat. Before I start with how comfortable the driver’s seat was, I must comment on how marvellous the dashboard looked on this car. The interiors follow a similarly curved design as on the outside to provide a distinctively ‘futuristic’ feel and they have certainly succeeded in impressing a Star Trek fanboy like me. The sculpted feel on the dash along with neatly placed AC vents on the sides look really wicked along with the sporty steering wheel. The steering has inbuilt controls for audio, rear view mirrors, phone speaker, and paddle shift controls for the X-tronic transmission.
The center console in this car looks massive and draws immediate attention with the touch-screen console that sits snugly between the A/C vents and the control panel for Climate Control. The smooth glazed finishes on the door handles and transmission tunnel also adds a hint of spice to the extremely attractive interiors. Coming to the instrument cluster, it has been provided with a distinctive hood that pops out from behind the steering wheel with silver finish on the instrument panels. Yes, it doesn’t serve any practical purpose but is more of a cosmetic addition to keep things figuratively fresh on the inside. Now finally talking about the seating comfort, the Juke has plenty of space for at least 5 people who don't need to elbow for extra room. The deep bucket seats literally cradles you and provide high degree of comforts even when you’ve driven the vehicle at a continuous stretch. Although the Toyota Rush offers space for 7 people, it still cannot beat the highly impressive interior styling as the Juke. The rear seats too felt pretty roomy, even for tall people that would find tons of head and legroom in the car with a considerable amount of coziness.
Once again, I found myself at crossroads with my bosses when I got to know that I need to review a crossover. I am not a particular fan of large sized vehicles due to the utter discomfort in city driving. My perception soon melted into nothingness as I saw the vehicle. Despite being a crossover/SUV, its curvy exteriors reminded me of the Volkswagen Beetle, which has been presented in a futuristic crossover avatar. As soon as I checked out the exterior design, I knew I would have a lot of fun driving this vehicle and once again, I wasn’t disappointed. The fans might miss the presence of a diesel powered engine, but the Juke certainly doesn’t look like a wild child and is much suited for a comfortable drive in urban environments in my opinion. It is powered by a 1.5-litre engine with Electronic multipoint fuel injection, that provides a mean punch of nearly 115 hp @ 5600 rpm and a torque of 154 Nm @ 4000 rpm. Add this to the Xtronic CVT gearbox and you get an extremely easy to drive vehicle that offers magnanimous amount of style with comfort. This was the first time I ever got my hands on an Xtronic transmission and I found it much more efficient and precise than any other automatic or CVT gearboxes I had come across. The gear shifting is pretty accurate and allows for effortless maneuvering in crowded cities as well as cruising on the highways or the countryside. The steering feels light as a breeze, yet provides that much needed amount of heaviness at higher speeds. Although we dare not test out the vehicle’s maximum speeds right now, but driving it at speeds above 100 km/h feels pretty stable without any unusual vibrations or wobbles.
The best part of this vehicle was certainly the added Cruise control that gives you a much deeper control of the engine’s power while saving you from abusing the accelerator. The Audio unit also feels powerful and pretty neat at providing all the necessary frequencies in a highly refined mix. I usually check out my audio systems by blasting some 90’s heavy metal music and this system in particular worked perfectly to put me in an energetic mood while driving. The front and rear wheels both have been provided with ventilated brakes that work in total unison with the, brake assist, ABS and EBD for a formidable and intelligent stopping power.
If you’re bored from driving all the available crossover models in the country, the Juke certainly provides you with a breath of fresh air. The vehicle certainly drives smooth and feels extremely comfortable. Some might argue that the new in this vehicle are more cosmetic than practical but looking at what the competitors have to offer, the Nissan Juke will definitely create its own presence in the crowd.