Nissan JUKE Puts the ‘Fun’ in Funky

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The segment is urban sport cross(over) and the manufacturer is Nissan and for the many of you (like me, initially) wondering what the heck this vehicle is I present the JUKE.

Funky name and a funky style to be sure but one spin around the block and JUKE proves itself a worthy competitor in this, and the global, market.

After Cube and LEAF, Nissan brought JUKE to the U.S. showing it is not afraid to release vehicles with somewhat polarizing style and appeal.

JUKE is certainly not for someone who wants to blend in – buy an Altima for that. No, JUKE makes a certain statement about the bold and brash personalities of its owners.

For me, I first thought of JUKE as the vehicle for playing an adult, live version of the game “Frogger” or something as I studied its bold upright front fascia that trails to a narrower rear.

JUKE is a five-seater hatchback built on Nissan’s global B-platform offering generous ground clearance and front- or all-wheel drive running gear powered by a sprited 188hp turbocharged 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine.

“JUKE has shaken up the market with a boldness, style and sense of fun that has never been seen before – at a time when segment sales are expanding with buyers looking for just such a combination,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “Succeeding well beyond all expectations, JUKE is finding a wide, enthusiastic audience both here in North America and around the world.”

Behind the standard engine is a choice of two transmissions – Nissan’s ubiquitous Xtronic CVT (with S-mode) or a six-speed manual gearbox (FWD models only).

On AWD JUKE models, Nissan’s torque vectoring system splits torque distribution 50:50 front-to-rear while also sending power side-to-side for maximum traction and, ultimately, driving fun.

The Nissan JUKE is very well mannered on the road and while offering a host of standard amenities and safety technology, drivers have to beware of the entrancing nature of the digital boost gauge in the dash. (I found my eyes wandering there on more than one occasion.)

A unique center console was designed using a motorcycle fuel tank for inspiration.

“The center console design clearly makes the statement that JUKE is no ordinary compact crossover,” said Castignetti. “It’s an unexpected touch that reinforces JUKE’s active, sporty attitude, while also helping create a sense of a true driver’s cockpit.”

Nissan employs what it has dubbed “I-CON” to serve as a central command center and display module. This Integrated CONtrol system allows drivers to select vehicle drive mode from either Eco, Normal or Sport. In climate mode, users can alter the vehicle’s interior environment but I found myself leaving it in “D” or drive mode most of the time. (Again, beware the hypnotic appeal of the boost gauge.)

Our JUKE tester arrived in the FWD SL version with the CVT sporting fuel economy figures of 27 mpg city and 32 highway. The base pricetag was $23,050 and after only a few options final MSRP came to $24,370 including destination fees.

The new Nissan JUKE certainly puts the “fun” in funky just be prepared to have everyone asking, “What the heck is that?”

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