| BUYERS GUIDE
NISSAN JUKE TURBO POCKET ROCKET
The 2015 Juke Turbo packed a few surprises.
Small SUVs now proliferate, but this rapid little beast stands out from the crowd. It has some bush cred as well, we found.
The Nissan Juke is desribed by Nissan as 'an urban crossover with bold styling inspired by a number of active lifestyle influences including motorcycles and rally cars'. The styling is certainly...er...different.
We don't normally test SUVs that come with temporatry spare wheels, because they're useless for interstate, let alone bush, trips. However, the turbocharged version drew our attention. With a whopping 140kW and 240Nm from only 1600cc it promised to be a brilliant performer and well capable of towing a 1200kg lightweight camper trailer.
The standard transmission is a continuously variable (CVT) type that also lends itself to some trail driving. On the performance and trail driving fronts we weren't disappointed.
The Juke is tiny: little more than a 2+2, with very limited luggage space. Squeeze a proper road wheel into the spare wheel well - thereby raising the
floor height by around 100mm - and there's even less cargo volume. If towing a little trailer on bush trips the Juke would have space in the back for
a proper spare wheel, without limiting camping kit stowage.
What you get
Forget the 'cooking' naturally aspirated engine: the turbo Juke Ti-S is a purchase option for those seeking a sports car that also has the flexibility of a small SUV and can occasionally tow a camper. Admittedly, this isn't a large proportion of OTA website visitors, but it might suit a pair of DINKS, or a couple with two kids. At a pinch you can squeeze in five adults, but you wouldn't want to go far.
Juke Ti-S pairs Nissan’s potent DIG Turbo engine with the Xtronic CVT that has manual mode, and Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive that splits torque up
to 50:50 between the front and rear wheels and can also split torque from side-to-side across the rear axle.
By monitoring vehicle speed, wheel speed, gear position, steering angle, lateral G forces and vehicle yaw rate, torque can be increased to the outside rear wheel in corners to help reduce understeer and enhance the car’s cornering feel. In total, up to 50- percent of the available engine torque can be sent to either rear wheel.
Our off-road testing showed that Torque Vectoring also helped with off-road traction in loose and slippery conditions.
Also standard are speed sensitive electric power steering, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
Standard interior features include Bluetooth audio streaming, steering wheel audio controls, cruise control and speed limiter, vertically-adjustable steering column and remote keyless entry.
Turbo variants include a five-inch Colour VGA LCD Display, satellite navigation, six speakers and push button engine start. The Ti-S features leather-faced seat trim and heated front seats, rear view camera, rain sensing wipers and auto headlights.
Standard safety features across the range include multiple airbags and front seatbelts with load limiters and pre-tensioners.
On and off road
Our evaluation vehicle was a 2014 model and for 2015 the engine has been tweaked to produce better low-rev torque and the transmission ratios have been broadened to improve low speed response.
This little machine is a pocket rocket and we had a lot of fun on back roads. However, a careless right foot could see you run out of licence points very
quickly. At an ask of only 32 grand the Juke Turbo offers a big cheap bang for your buck.
Ride was sportingly firm on formed surfaces, but a tad jiggly on rocky trails. Handling was brilliant on bitumen, with neutral steering and bags of torque for corner exits. The brakes hauled the missile down from high speeds reassuringly.
On gravel roads the tyres felt out of sorts and a set of rally-style boots would be our choice.
The Juke was never designed with the Australian Outback in mind, but it managed serviced fire trails quite happily and had excellent grip on loose rocky surfaces. It climbed and descended our SUV test trail quite easily, with less wheelspin that many of its larger SUV competitors. Tight approach and departure angles and a short wheelbase let it go to some interesting places.
A tiny fuel tank and temporary spare wheel limit its touring ability, but with a real wheel in the back and a camper in tow, hosting a couple of jerry cans, the Juke could go bush.
If we owned one we'd let it stay dirty and get around in it wearing hoodies or caps on back to front. We'd deliberately seek out BMW and Audi owners who'd shelled out at least three times as much money and break their little hearts. Childish we know, but you're only on the planet once...
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