We’ve just finished our first week with the Nissan Juke, our latest addition to the C&P management fleet. And it’s been a pretty interesting one, culminating in a meeting with its lunatic brother, the Juke R.
We’ll come to that in a moment, but first, a run down on our impressions so far. Opinions on the looks remain divided, although personally I like every angle except the front. It’s got a face only a mother could love, but the massive arches, rear lights pinched from the 370Z and GT-R-like window line are rather fetching. The interior is quirky and different, with a transmission tunnel inspired by a motorcycle gas tank and some very cool little features. I particularly like the buttons that operate both the air conditioning and the car’s ‘mood’, which change their labeling according to what mode your in. Very clever.
On the road, those ‘moods’ can be Normal, Sport or Eco. In normal, the Juke is meek and mild, with its 187bhp engine hauling it along nicely via the front wheels. I’m not a fan of the CVT gearbox though; it’s efficient, but very dull, making the car sound more like a vacuum cleaner than a happy little hatch. Engage Sport and it becomes much more spirited, with a sharper throttle and some pretty vigorous torque steer as you try and power out of corners. Eco damps everything down and restricts the revs unless you stamp on the gas. Very useful for trying to eke out the maximum mileage from the fuel tank.
After getting to know the Juke, we took it to the 24 Hours of Dubai race over the weekend, where it bumped into the Juke R that Nissan has brought over from Europe. This 480bhp monster is based on a stock Juke, but has the 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 engine and running gear from the GT-R crammed into it. With such brutality I’m much less offended by the front end looks – they somehow suit the snarling nature of the R. Maybe they’ll grow on me with our more docile little Juke too.