TEST DRIVE – Nissan Juke 4x4

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Motoring man Les Oliver drives Sunderland’s funky four-wheel drive Juke – and believes Nissan won’t sell too many of them...

WITH its hefty haunches and bulging frog-eye headlamps the Juke’s looks do not appeal to everyone.

But judging by the number of predominantly white models seen on Sunderland’s roads we’ve obviously become acclimatised to its funky style.

It’s now notching up sales at home and across Europe.

Together with Qashqai and Qashqai+2, Nissan’s dominance of crossover segment marches on.

The Sunderland plant saw almost 22,000 Jukes go to British drivers during the first year, and over 132,000 to buyers across Europe.

This quirky five-door alternative to the conventional urban hatchback was a fresh departure from the traditionally conservative small runabout.

It provides drivers with a tough and agile competitor in a busy sector.

There are three equipment grades: Visia, Acenta and Tekna, plus Shiro limited edition.

And there’s a choice of three engines– a 1.6 petrol with two or four-wheel drive and a 1.5 diesel, not including the awesome 545bhp Juke-R supercar.

Nissan has confirmed it will be selling a limited production version of its stunning Juke-R concept, which combines the bodyshell of a Juke hatchback with the twin-turbocharged V6 engine of the mighty GT-R.

That super racer is capable of a blistering 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds before continuing on to a top speed of 160mph.

The price has not been officially revealed but will be “very high” and commentators have put it at over £350,000.

Prices of the “normal” Juke start at £13,895 for the 1.6 Visia petrol. The 4x4 CVT Tekna at £20,295 is also the most expensive in the range.

If you like gimmicks this is the car for you.

A “Dynamic Control System” changes a display, colours and functions depending on how it is being used.

In Climate mode, it shows temperature and air-flow settings, while in D-Mode, the buttons change to Normal, Sport and Eco driving styles, altering throttle maps, torque availability, CVT shift schedules.

You can see when you are generally driving economically, and get bar charts of your fuel use over the past five days and even five weeks. But I never managed to get a precise mpg.

The 1.6 DiG-T (direct injection, turbocharged) engine boasts 187bhp and 177lb ft of torque while achieving 37mpg and 175g/km.

Nissan’s ‘All-Mode 4x4-i’ all-wheel-drive system, splits torque front and rear, with up to 50 per cent being sent to the back wheels, the split can also be made side-to-side across the rear axle. This makes it a fun car to drive. It’s quick off the mark and nimble in corners with light and responsive steering that make it feel almost like a hot hatch but for the higher ground clearance.

But I wonder if this level of sophisticated four-wheel-drive is necessary in the urban environment these days when most people will be happy with the capable front-driven Juke and a six-speed manual gearbox?

If you go for the 4wd model you are limited to its only transmission choice, a CVT automatic.

Having said that, I was less offended by this gearbox than other CVTs I have driven where the ride was lunging with every change up the box. The Nissan was remarkably smooth.

But I doubt very much if Nissan will sell many four-wheel drive Jukes.

It is the most expensive in the range (not counting the Wow-machine).

You’ll be better off with a 2WD manual 1.6 DiG-T. It’s got better acceleration, a higher top speed, better economy, better CO2, is better to drive because of the gearbox - and it’s £2,200 cheaper!

TECH SPEC

Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T 4x4 Tekna

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol

Power:187 bhp

0-60: 8.4secs

Top speed: 124mph

Economy: 37.2mpg

CO2: 175g/km

Price: £20,295