Juke cleans up its act

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Even if you want to make an outlandish statement in your compact car, you probably still want to do so with one eye on the bottom line.

Hence the sales success to date of the diesel version of Nissan’s little Juke crossover. Now, the 1.5-litre dCi engine is quieter, greener and has more torque. What’s not to like?

The diesel engine we’re looking at here still puts out 110PS through the front wheels (there’s no 4x4 option) but it does so far more quietly these days. Changes have also been made to the gear ratios. The 1st and 2nd ratios are a little shorter to allow sharper responses at low speeds.

Drivers will need to make the most of this car’s Nissan Dynamic Control system to get the most out of it. This enables you to select from three engine settings - Eco, Normal and Sport. This system now not only selects appropriate pedal sensitivity settings in Eco and Sport modes, but also limits maximum engine torque in Eco mode to 220Nm. In Normal and Sport, the full 260Nm is available, giving a 109mph maximum speed and a 0-62mph capability of 11.2sec.

To look at the Juke, you’d think it had just come off a stage of the Paris Dakar Rally. The big wheels, extended ground clearance and body protection clearly hint at some all-terrain ability but much of the effort that has gone into developing the car was actually focused on creating a sporty feel on the road. The MacPherson strut front suspension is tuned to optimise ride comfort and handling with a cradle-type front subframe included for extra lateral stiffness.

There seems to be a huge amount going on with the Juke’s design but against the odds, the various elements do mesh together in cohesive fashion. The look is highly adventurous with two sets of headlamps staring out from the front end, vast bodywork bulges over the wheels and the striking dogleg roofline that slopes away violently from the top of the windscreen. The interlocking circles cut into the under bumper, the rear door handles integrated into the C-pillars, while the boomerang-shaped rear lights add yet more points of interest.

The Juke is 4,135mm long while the majority of today’s superminis dip fractionally under the 4-metre barrier. It’s also 1,765mm wide which, again, is larger than most supermini products but not by much. When you factor the Juke’s wide track, flared wheelarches, beefy bumpers and long bonnet into its dimensions, the expectation must be for an actual cabin that’s somewhat less roomy than the leading supermini rivals. The 251-litre boot includes an underfloor storage area and 60:40 split rear seats help to increase luggage capacity.

The 1.5-litre dCi diesel will continue to be the driving force behind Nissan Juke sales, especially in this improved form. This variant enables you to enjoy a car that allows you to let your hair down a bit – without penalising you on the balance sheet. It’s a strong combination.

Whether you think the Juke to be a rather over-stylised thing will depend on whether or not you like it. Those who do really love the thing.