2016 Nissan Juke: surprisingly enjoyable

Introduced in 2011, the Juke practically created a new market segment, that of subcompact SUVs. Not only did it get noticed with its diminutive size, but it’s the vehicle’s unique styling, especially up front, that sparks the most discussions. The Juke leaves no one indifferent; we either love it or hate it.

For 2016, the little SUV receives little changes, aside from the possibility of choosing from a plethora of accessories in order to personalize the vehicle. There are virtually no limits to what you can add to it. The SV and SL trim levels are equipped with a turbocharged, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 188 horsepower and that can be matched with a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic. Regarding the latter, even if we’re not big fans of this type of gearbox, Nissan succeeded in making more pleasant to use than its competitors’ CVTs.

Juke NISMO, a genuine sportster
While the competition respects convention, Nissan decided to have a little fun with the Juke by offering two high-energy versions. If your budget allows it, don’t hesitate to choose the Juke NISMO (for NISsan MOtorsports) which benefits from standard all-wheel drive, but also more dynamic styling add-ons. The Juke NISMO RS further pushes the envelope with a more concentrated formula that includes a more powerful engine – 215 hp for the front-drive version and 211 for the AWD variant. These two little sportsters stand out with their more dynamic handling characteristics and extroverted looks.

Inside, the attention to detail is appreciated. No component of the cockpit and dashboard has anything in common with what we usually find in conventional vehicles. We almost feel like we’re riding aboard a MINI product. If the two front passengers benefit from sufficient space, in back, it’s much tighter. Even if we have the impression that the Juke only has two doors, since the rear handles are cleverly concealed, accessing the rear-seat area is pretty simple. The cargo area’s volume isn’t very generous, and that’s its biggest drawback. This can’t be considered a family vehicle.

Believe it or not, the most interesting aspect of the Juke isn’t its appearance, but the driving pleasure it provides. At the wheel, we feel like we’re driving a small and agile sports car, not an SUV. This aspect, even more present in the NISMO versions, notably comes from the precise steering, the sport suspension and the low riding height, giving the impression that we’re connected to the ground. Despite its unorthodox looks and its small size, the Juke is surprisingly enjoyable.

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