Nissan Juke 1.6-litre turbo UK test drive
When Nic drove the Juke in Spain back in July, he wasn't completely enamoured with Nissan's new compact crossover, but having just lived with the car for a week in the UK I must confess that I'm quite taken with the car.
As far as I'm concerned the Juke is a more than capable competitor to the class leaders and does something that almost every manufacturer is striving for - it offers something that little bit different.
Very few new cars in the sub £20,000 price bracket have the ability to turn heads these days, but the Juke is certainly one of them. However, at no point do you feel as though you are attracting attention for the wrong reasons - the reaction garnered in rural Somerset were those of gentle intrigue.
The muscular and bulbous design of the Juke lends it an imposing stature on the road, but the Micra underpinnings mean it is not as cumbersome to park or manoeuvre around tight areas as it perhaps should be. A light steering wheel at low speeds and a high seating position certainly help, although the curves at the extremes mean it is sometimes hard to tell where the car ends and any obstacles start.
A strange quirk of specifications on our test car meant that we had a very useful reverse parking camera - standard and included with the Acenta Premium trim level - but no parking sensors. The rear-facing camera, while more helpful in multi-storey car parks than beeping sensors that often leave you an overly cautious distance from any potential obstacles, proved less than useful in the dark.
Many of the Juke's critics will tell you that the Juke is not as big as a Focus/Golf/Astra, but it isn't meant to be – Nissan's Golf rival is the Qashqai. The Juke is based on the Micra so it's really a rival for the Fiesta and the Polo etc. Sadly it is not quite as big as those in the boot, but the Juke can carry four comfortably thanks to the increased headroom, not something many superminis can claim.
The other contentious area of the Juke will be its interior design and that motorbike-influenced central console. While it might annoy some, it is no cheaper in feel than many of its supermini rivals, and offers the practicality of a series of cubbyholes - more than the likes of the Citroen DS3 and the Mini for example.
Given the trendy 'lifestyle' buyer that Nissan is aiming for, the Mini is a good point of comparison. Like the Mini, the Juke won't be bought by people who particularly require practicality, but by those that want their car to say something about them. On this basis the Juke holds a trump card over the Mini. The BMW-made baby has not been updated significantly in almost a decade now, losing that crucial element of freshness and style that Nissan's new crossover has in spades.