Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2014 Nissan Juke ST review

Isaac Bober’s first drive 2014 Nissan Juke ST review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell The Nissan Juke is a quirky blend of SUV and inner-city hatchback.

Practical Motoring says With its love it or hate it looks, the Nissan Juke will appeal to those after something small enough to fit in the back pocket in town and yet big enough to accommodate a family of four. Yes, the entry-level Juke ST feels a little cheap inside with its extensive use of hard plastic but the design is interesting enough that you won’t notice that straightaway. We had a few niggles with the interior fit and finish, so, it’s hard to say how well it’ll resist family abuse.

WHEN THE QUIRKY looking Nissan Juke arrived in Australia earlier this year it had already been on-sale overseas since 2010, following the reveal of the Nissan Qazana concept at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Looking back at the concept and at the Juke, it arrived with nothing but the lightest of retouches.
And that means it looks quirky to say the least. There are deep flanks and exaggerated wheel arches along with a bubble-esque glasshouse. Nissan says the Juke has been designed to blend SUV and inner-city hatch and, to be honest, the designers have kind of hit the mark even if it won’t really be to everyone’s taste.

And the back story for the interior gets a little weirder with Nissan claiming its taken inspiration for the dashboard and especially the instrument cluster forward of the steering wheel from a motorcycle. Look at the picture and you can make out the two dials wrapped in a cowl mimicing those of a motorbike … sort of, anyway. But wait, there’s more, because the transmission tunnel, all glossy and and rounded is meant to imitate a ‘sleek superbike’s petrol tank. Okay then.

2014 Nissan Juke ST review
*Ti-S pictured

Now, the Nissan Juke isn’t an expensive vehicle, and our test car, the entry-level ST 2WD, lists from $21,990 (+ORC) if you get the manual, or $24,390 (+ORC) for the auto version which we tested. That means, you can kind of forgive Nissan for its extensive use of hard, scratchy plastics inside the thing, but our test car was starting to show signs of wear with a rattle coming from the back seats somewhere that couldn’t be chased down and a broken clip holding the ‘motorcycle-esque fuel tank’ transmission tunnel in place. We could lift the whole back of the cover up.

We did fit a booster seat to the back, but the sloping roof and the narrow windows, and limited legroom in the back all meant number one son wasn’t overly impressed. Without the kid’s seats, there’s enough room for two adults in the back; three would be pushing it a little too much.

2014 Nissan Juke ST review
*Ti-S pictured

Under the bonnet of the Juke ST is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 86kW (at 6000rpm) and 158Nm of torque (at 4000rpm), a six-speed manual transmission is standard but our test car was fitted with a cost-optional continuously variable transmission which Nissan calls Xtronic. Fuel consumption ranges from 6.0-6.3L/100km depending on the transmission.

With just 1191kg (in CVT trim) the Juke ST doesn’t have a lot of weight too push around and the CVT tune matches well with the engine to become a pretty eager set-up. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking hot hatch here, but the entry-level Juke ST does feel fun on the road with more than enough get-up-and-go to handle overtaking on the highway and keeping up with traffic in the steep slopes of the Blue Mountains.

Nissan, with the Juke, has worked hard to blend a conventional hatch with the attributes of an SUV (sitting up nice and high and extra ground clearance) but making a tall car like the Juke handle can be tricky. So, the boffins have given it a tighter suspension set-up than you might otherwise expect, so, there’s minimal roll in corners and plenty of grip, although its eagerness to ‘go’ translates into regular wheelspin unless you’re feather light on the throttle from a standing start.

2014 Nissan Juke ST review

The electric, speed-sensitive steering is quick and precise but it feels numb in the hands and while the Juke’s suspension is a little on the ‘sporting’ side it still manages to soak up the worst of the road. With only larger bumps or ruts catching out, momentarily, the tall and short wheelbase and sending a jolt through the cabin.

Priced from $21,990 (+ORC) the Juke ST gets the gear you’d expect for that price with Bluetooth and audio streaming, steering wheel audio controls, cruise control, climate control and rear privacy glass. Disappointingly there’s nor reversing camera and the spare wheel is a space-saver only.

In terms of safety, the Juke ST gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating, traction and stability controls, six airbags, including front to rear curtain airbags, ISOFIX and three tether points, driver and front passenger seatbelt warning and rear door child locks. As mentioned, there’s no reversing camera on the ST, you only get that on the ST-S and Ti-S models.

2014 Nissan Juke ST

Price from $21,990 (+ORC)
Warranty three years, 100,000km
Safety five-star ANCAP
Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (95RON)
Power/Torque 86kW/158Nm
Transmission six-speed manual (standard); CVT (cost-option)
Body 4135mm (L); 1765mm (W); 1565mm (H)
Weight 1166-1191kg
Thirst 6.0-6.3L/100km

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober