It’s been around for seven years and sold in big numbers, but the Nissan Juke still stands out on our roads – there’s nothing else like it. With its bold nose, swooping roofline and unique profile the Juke cuts a dash, but Nissan didn’t just take a chance with this distinctive supermini- SUV – it created a whole new segment.

Until the Juke arrived in 2010, crossovers had generally been bigger cars and while the compact dimensions mean the Juke is compromised, there are plenty of owners who wouldn’t have anything else. There’s no doubt that the pioneering Nissan polarises opinions with its design, but as a used buy there’s still plenty to like.

History

The Juke arrived in September 2010, with a 1.6-litre petrol engine in normally aspirated or turbocharged (DIG-T) forms, or as a 1.5-litre dCi diesel.

There were Visia, Acenta and Tekna trims, but in April 2013 the N-Tec was introduced above Acenta; the 197bhp Nismo arrived, too, in front or four-wheel-drive forms.

Revised gearing from September 2011 reduced fuel consumption and emissions, while a more efficient 1.5 dCi unit arrived in July 2013 with stop/start. From June 2014 there was a facelifted Juke in showrooms, with extra safety kit (dubbed Safety Shield and including Around View, plus Blind Spot Warning), a new turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine and extra standard kit. Significantly, the boot was enlarged, too.

Which one should I buy?

The Juke 1.5 dCi and 1.6 come with front-wheel drive only, the latter in manual or auto forms. The 1.6 DIG-T (including the Nismo) comes in front or four-wheel drive, with manual or auto gearboxes respectively. Post-June 2014 cars are much improved so aim for one of those. Standard kit on the Visia includes ESP, 16-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and air-con; the Acenta adds climate control, 17-inch alloys and Bluetooth, while Tekna has leather trim, touchscreen multimedia and a reversing camera.

N-Tec comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, multimedia and sportier details, while Acenta buyers could add the Sport Pack (17-inch alloys, privacy glass) or Premium Pack (multimedia, new audio, reversing camera).

Alternatives to the Nissan Juke

It may have been the first of the breed, but the Juke now has no shortage of rivals. Two of the key alternatives are French; the Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. Both have been big hits and offer good value with decent practicality. Another option that majors on value is the Vauxhall Mokka. There are plenty to choose from, but it’s disappointing to drive, although there is a four-wheel-drive option.

If all-wheel drive is important to you, we’d also recommend looking at a MINI Countryman. Prices are higher than for an equivalent Juke, though. 

What to look for: 

The pipe to the air-con pump can shear, resulting in a lack of refrigerated air. Putting everything right can easily cost over £500. 

Paint problem

Early cars could suffer from the bumpers rubbing against adjacent panels because of the tight gaps; the result was damaged paint.

Stitching

Check the panels on the side of the driver’s seat; splits are an issue, especially on leather-trimmed cars. The stitching can also split.

Build quality

The fixings for the parcel shelf are annoyingly fragile; they get broken so easily that some owners simply remove the shelf altogether.

Interior

The dash is easy to use and it’s comfy up front, but some interior plastics feel flimsy, and rear seat space is tight thanks to that sloping roofline. Boot space stands at 251 litres in 2WD models and 207 litres in 4WD cars. However, facelifted FWD Jukes offer 354 litres. 

Running costs

Diesel Jukes and those with a normally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine need to be serviced every 12 months or 18,000 miles; those with DIG-T power every 12 months or 12,500 miles. Services alternate between minor and major at £189 and £259 respectively for petrol-engined models; for diesels these cost £209 and £319.

While the petrol engine is chain-driven, the diesel has a cambelt that needs to be replaced every five years or 90,000 miles, so the fifth service for a diesel costs £530, which includes a replacement belt. Fresh coolant is required every three years (at £65), plus the brake fluid needs to be replaced every two years, at £30. 

Recalls

A total of seven recalls is disappointing. The first, issued in December 2010, was due to brake fluid contamination. Another, in January 2012, was because some diesels could stall and not restart. There were two recalls because of potential fuel leaks (April 2012 and March 2013), while the possibility of an airbag expelling hot gases led to an action in February 2013. Faulty engine start switches were behind a campaign in August 2015, then a July 2016 recall was due to faulty engine oxygen sensors. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

A 93rd placing in our Driver Power 2016 survey is about right for a car of this age – and it’s a big improvement on the 138th in the previous year’s poll. In-car tech was the top score (17th) with reliability in 55th; the worst score was 140th for practicality, with ride quality in 114th place.

Verdict

Nissan is renowned for being daring with its designs, but sometimes that comes at a price, and we don’t mean a financial one. In this instance it’s a case of form over function, with those eye-catching lines coming at the expense of space.

However, as with all crossovers you get a raised seating position, and the Juke is an easy car to live with. If you’re tempted, buy one with a turbocharger – petrol or diesel – and you’ll enjoy strong performance with decent economy.  It’s not the most accomplished car in its class, but the Juke is decent value, eye-catching and reliability is generally good if you choose a facelifted version.

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