Weird Looking Baby SUV Is A Bridge Too Far
Qashqai Design Was Brave, Innovative, Highly Successful
This One Is Daring Too, But Misses The Target
** out of 5
Nissan Seeks Out The “Urban Player” With No Embarrass Genes
For singular looks, terrific interior, decent value
Nissan has been very brave and often successful at creating new types of cars.
Look at the Qashqai, which Nissan invented when it became obvious that it couldn’t sell the old Primera in big enough numbers to make a decent profit against competition like the Ford Mondeo. The Qashqai was truly a “crossover” a halfway house between an SUV and a regular saloon car, and it has been selling like hotcakes. Other manufacturers are scrambling to meet this new market segment which must be earning Nissan massive profits as a car this popular will often sell at a maximum margin with little discounting. Oh the joy of being first to the market with something the public actually wants.
But Nissan is unlikely to be savouring the fruits of its bravery as it struggles to sell the battery-powered Leaf. The new Juke also promises to a bit hard to sell when you consider its sheer ugliness, it’s self-conscious attempt to be different and trendy. It truly appears to be a vehicle aimed to appeal to those who don’t buy cars because it seems designed to excite 14 year olds. It reminds me of my time at Reuters, the news agency, when you lived and died by being first with the news. There was that euphoric interlude when you had beaten the competition, which turned to cold sweat when the excitement at being first was replaced by the dread word “alone” to describe your efforts, promising the humiliation of a correction for all the world to see. The longer the competition failed to match your exclusive, the more it became likely that a crass error had taken place which might threaten your career.
Alone, with more money than sense
But what is the Juke like to drive? Does it have any qualities that might tempt buyers? Firstly of course once inside, you don’t have to look at it anymore, so that’s a plus. The Juke drives very well, with powerful and sophisticated engines (there’s a huge range to choose from) and terrific gearboxes. The quality of the interior is very impressive, although I was surprised to find in the press release that the centre console apparently looks just like a motorcycle fuel tank. The ride was on the bouncy side. There’s not much room in the back.
Trim and equipment options will follow the established Visia, Acenta and Tekna categories. Standard equipment includes six airbags, ESP, air conditioning and a CD/radio. The diesel is available on two-wheel-drive models with a six-speed manual transmission.
The move up to the Acenta grade adds 17" alloys, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, USB audio connection, leather covered steering wheel, body-coloured door mirrors and the Nissan Dynamic Control System. Top-of-the range Teknas incorporate the Nissan Connect system as standard, with a full colour touch screen display, coupled with rear view camera.
Perhaps I’m being unfair in my description of who is likely to buy this car. Over to Nissan for its thoughts on just who will stump up the money for a Juke.
Find the Urban Player
Good luck with that, I would say. A crucial quality would also be a complete lack of embarrass genes.
Neil Winton October 20, 2011
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