Car Reviews

2020 Nissan Juke Review

Paul Horrell’s 2020 Nissan Juke Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Interior, Ownership, Verdict And Score.

IN A NUTSHELL: The new Juke looks almost as distinctive as the original. But it’s a way better car. The old one was cramped and rough, while the new is class-competitive for space and refinement. The cabin design and quality are also good for the class.

2020 Nissan Juke Review

THE OLD JUKE was one of the first baby crossovers. Later rivals tried to make more space for families, but that gave them boring silhouettes. People loved the looks of the Juke and it sold well, right to its end. The job here was to keep the individuality of the design, but improve space in the cabin and the boot, and the cabin quality too.

It’s a car designed and specced in Europe. So don’t be surprised the AWD version has died, and there’s no more 1.6-litre engine. It’s a turbo 1.0-litre now, and FWD only. The choice is only between trim levels, and manual box or a seven-speed DCT auto.

They did make extra space, stretching the wheelbase by 10cm. But the overall length has grown just 7cm, so the overhangs are shorter. Commendably, this extra space comes along with a reduction in overall weight. Just over 20kg has been carved out.

The new body has some assertive creases, and lots of sparkly LED lighting. The old round-eye motif has been retained at the front, but with three-bladed running lights within the circle. The wheel options go up to an unnecessary but attention-grabbing 19-inch. Even so, this Juke is probably more conformist than the old one, having lost its hunched-hyena proportions.

What’s the Nissan Juke interior like?

Roomier, is the big news. The front feels more spacious. The old one was cramped for not-even-very-tall men, whereas the new one will accommodate almost everyone. The steering column now telescopes as well as tilts, as you’d expect.

In the back, two adults can fit fairly comfortably but they’re squished towards the centre as the roofline is narrow. So there isn’t really much space for anyone in the middle. Also, the shallow glass and thick rear pillar make it feel dark, and the view out is limited. Kids might not like it.

The rear seat gets a USB power outlet and some door bins but that’s about it for amenities. No direct-able air vents for instance.

The boot is now 422 litres, whereas before Juke owners got by on 354 litres. The hatch opening, while wider than it was, still isn’t huge. A double-height floor divides the space if you want.

The dash is clad in soft stitched plastic. Door cards are livened up by a variety of materials.

A top trim level brings a choice of three colour schemes (black with Alcantara, black with white highlights, and black with orange). That same trim allows two-tone roof treatments. So if your taste veers towards the jolly, this is your version.

The instrument pack consists of actual physical dials, with a screen between them giving configurable extra driving info.

Lots of functions – HVAC, driver-assist – get their own hardware controls so the centre screen can concentrate on infotainment.

What’s the Nissan Juke infotainment like?

First mention goes to the stereo fitted on upper grades. It’s a Bose setup that supplements the usual speaker array with tiny directional speakers in the driver’s and passenger’s head restraints. The effect of these is to give a very defined stereo image to the people in those seats, a wonderful sense of space to the sound.

Nissan makes a lot of noise about the connectivity in the Juke, with middle and upper grades getting a live system for traffic on the maps, and permanent connection to an app on your phone. This allows web-enabled locking, checks on fuel level, diagnostics, and an easy way to send nav directions to the car before you set off. It also means Google’s voice assistant can answer questions and commands specifically related to the car. There’s also Apple CarPlay connectivity.

Normal phone mirroring is also fitted to most grades.

As to the screen itself, it’s pretty responsive, but Nissan’s graphics and cartography are inelegant.

What’s the Nissan Juke’s engine like?

The little engine is obviously not meant for heavy towing or yanking a vehicle up dunes. The Juke is definitely not that sort of crossover. But in the context of normal city and highway biffing around, its output is just fine.

Zero to 100km/h is just over 10 seconds. Not sparkly but as much as you can use without drama. In acceleration, it emits a three-cylinder thrum, but it settles down to a more regular hum at a cruise.

It gets its best work done in the middle revs. Power peak is at little over 5000rpm, so although it can and will rev to 6500, you likely won’t.

Still, there’s enough humption in this engine that it’ll just about see you right if you go to play in your favourite quiet twisty road.

The six-speed transmission is a little wobbly in its lever action. The alternative DCT is one of the better ones of its kind, shifting smoothly and selecting among its seven ratios in a sensible and timely way.

What’s the Nissan Juke like to drive?

The combination of direct steering, taut damping and stiff anti-roll bars work to give a well-calibrated and precise feel through bends. There’s even a useful hint from steering feedback at the limit, and not much understeer.

The roll stiffness and high seating position claim a price in straight driving though, when rough roads impart a fair dose of lateral rocking. Besides the suspension is generally tighter than say the VW T-Cross. Still, the worst edges of ridges and potholes are eased away.

It’s good and stable on motorways, and the suspension and big tyres don’t kick up too much noise.

The brakes look tiny inside the big wheels, but in our testing, down some long twisty hills, did the job. Mind you we weren’t loaded up.

How safe is the Nissan Juke?

Six airbags are fitted. There’s an Isofix point in the front seat as well as two behind. Even though the rear doesn’t really fit three people comfortably, it has belts and head restraints for all.

All versions get a decent pack of active safety tech. The intelligent emergency braking function detects vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. The lane assist nudges you back if you cross the line. A beep sounds if you exceed the speed limit signs (was I alone in finding that annoying?). The traffic sign recognition is linked to the cruise control, too.

The upper grades get an extra pack, consisting of adaptive cruise control, and a blind-spot system that nudges you back into lane if you move out with a faster vehicle overtaking. It also adds 360-degree cameras for manoeuvring.

On cars with the automatic transmission, that upper-level pack also includes Propilot, Nissan’s level-two semi-autonomous assistance.

Visibility to the rear is compromised by the small rear glazed area. But in front, the pillars have been made thinner than before, a welcome move. They’re stronger nonetheless because they use advanced steel.

Nissan’s surround camera system works well for manoevring, and in the boonies at night you’ll be grateful for the standard LED headlamps.

Is the new Nissan Juke coming to Australia?

This is the world’s first drive of the 2020 Nissan Juke, which we drove in Europe. However, it looks very likely the new Juke will come to Australia next year. Speaking to Practical Motoring, Nissan Australia CEO Stephen Lester told us: “I would say that there is a strong likelihood that we would get the new Juke in Australia.”

“There’s no hesitation about the desire or the fact it would work in the market, but in the process of getting the product in the market there are certain milestones [to meet first].”

2020 Nissan Juke Spec (European)

Price N/A

Warranty 5 years / unlimited km

Engine 1.0L petrol turbo

Power 86kW at 5250rpm

Torque 200Nm at 1750-3750rpm

Transmission 6-speed manual, 7-speed DCT auto

Drive front-wheel drive

Body 4210mm (l); 1800mm (w exc mirrors); NAmm (w inc mirrors); 1595mm (h)

Towing weight 1200kg (braked), NAkg (unbraked)

Kerb weight 1182kg (manual) 1207kg (auto)

Seats 5

Fuel tank 46 litres

Spare No

Thirst 6.0-6.1 l/100km combined cycle

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's the infotainment like?
What's the performance like?
What's it like on the road?
What about the safety features?
The old Juke could hardly be justified on anything beyond style and reliability. but it still sold well. The new one fixes the practicality to a decent extent. It's now as roomy as the class average, and also refined enough for decent journey lengths. A nicely furnished cabin makes the Juke feel like value, too. As always with small crossovers, don't fixate on the ride and handling. This one is quite fun to drive versus most rivals, but almost any regular hatchback is better.

Paul Horrell

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.