By BRENWIN NAIDU
I SPOKE To Nissan product manager, Nancy Reddy at the launch of their new baby. She told me that the Juke is a funky car with heaps of spunk. And I can attest to that – the new Juke is endowed with liberal sprinklings of character, which will appeal to those wanting a car that stands out and makes a bold statement of individuality.
This is something becoming increasingly common in the new car industry these days – vehicles geared toward the individualists of the world. Just look at products like the Mini, Fiat 500 and Citroen DS3 – offering so many customisation options, to create something truly unique.
The Juke’s appearance is certainly unique, nobody can say that it resembles anything else on the road, or that it’s too formulaic in design. Its oddball front-end is dominated by a grille that gives an impression of a big, Colgate smile. Two large fog-lamps stand out on the front bumper, and perched atop the Nissan’s bonnet are two headlamps with a slit-eyed shape, akin to those on a crocodile. It is indeed a mad, funky little car.
What adds to the Juke’s element of quirkiness, is the fact that it’s offered with a very punchy turbocharged engine – something you really wouldn’t expect in a crossover vehicle like this. So, when you pull up next to some people at a set of robots, who might find the Juke’s looks a little peculiar, at least you’ll have the pleasure of blowing them away, leaving them eating your dust.
This 1.6-litre DIG-T engine – DIG stands for Direct Injection Gasoline – helps the Juke whizz around like an Energizer bunny. But seriously, the power it produces is impressive – 140-kilowatts and 240 Newton metres of torque. That’s more than ample, by anyone’s standards. Nissan claim a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 8 seconds flat.
On the back roads through Magaliebsurg, en-route to Pretoria, we had many opportunities to floor it on the flat, straight stretches of road. And the Nissan goes. Quickly. Lag is a characteristic typical of turbocharged cars – a sort of sluggish spot before that turbo kicks in. Some lag was noticed on the Juke, but when the turbocharger spins-up, it’s like there’s an invisible hand giving you a shove into the horizon. So the Juke ticks the boxes when it comes to the fun-to-drive category.
The interior is as cool and funky as the Juke’s body. Glossy black plastic adorns the centre instrument panel, and a really different touch is the trim covering the whole of the centre panel – around the gear lever, handbrake and cupholders, which was shiny and red, and kind of looked like the solid stuff they make bowling balls from. My one gripe – and I’ve mentioned this in the other reviews I’ve penned on the Juke, is that the rear is a bit cramped. Not cool if you have plans to use it as a moms’ or dads’ taxi.
Nissan’s new Juke is something different. It’s a quirky, unique and unconventional crossover. With its looks alone, it will definitely elicit some reaction from car-buyers here in South Africa. Pricing is keen too, starting at R198,000 for the Acenta and R258,800 for the Tekna, with the turbocharged engine.