‘Social distancing’ technology: the new Nissan Juke compact crossover
28th March 2020, Independent.ie
Like you, I hope, I am working hard at being positive. It is the only way. Driving a car on test is a bizarre sensation. On the one hand it is a means of keeping social distance while doing a job I absolutely love; on the other, it feels like I am working in a vacuum.
But I comfort myself with the belief that this emergency will pass, please God. There will be a need for, and a means of buying, a new or newer car.
I am struck by the retained level of interest there is in all things to do with motoring. Maybe it is through browsing boredom or necessity, but I am getting lots of queries and ponderings from people about buying - whenever that is feasible.
I suspect, and I think I am correct in assuming, that people are using it as one of the things to help pitch their mentality forward to better days and times.
The new Nissan Juke is likely to be one of the cars on shopping lists when that time comes.
There is a simple reason for that. It is a small SUV - or compact crossover - whichever nomenclature you wish to apply and these cars are hugely popular. The Juke has been a huge favourite for years.
Indeed, it can be claimed that the Juke played a major part in the popularity of the small-SUV. At one stage it sat virtually alone in the niche; now there are upwards of 20 of its ilk.
Well, that is not strictly true. There can only ever be the one Juke because it, alone, has had its unique love-it-or-hate-it design. Its sharply raked roofline left it open to accusations of 'ugliness' or 'daring' depending on which side of the fence you occupied. I'm afraid I could never really warm to the sawn-off looks. But I could see why people liked it from a driving perspective; there was something about the way it was set up to drive and feel on the road.
I'm glad to report that they have softened those severe slopes in this new one. I like the car a lot more now (the 19in wheels filling the large wheel arches influenced my decision, too).
But there are reasons other than visuals for that. They have made a really substantial car of this and families who heretofore may have rejected it as an option won't have restricted rear room as one of their complaints any more.
The Juke is now 75mm longer (4,210mm), 30mm taller while the wheelbase has been stretched by 105mm.
I felt I was driving a much larger car than before. I had good room in the back with the front seats adjusted to take my frame. Just to give you an idea of that: there is an additional 5.8cm knee room, while rear head space has doubled. They had been the two areas most heavily criticised in its predecessor. It was most definitely easier to access and get out of too. Boot room has been extended by a revelatory 20pc and, at 422 litres, it bestows a mere eight litres fewer than the larger Qashqai.
Powering the new arrival is a lively 1-litre 3cyl petrol turbo engine (117PS). I had the 6spd manual version, thankfully, because I didn't find the 7spd DCT auto to my liking at all on a brief national-launch drive.
The only thing I'd say by way of a heads-up is that while these smaller engines are great for urban-drive scenarios, watch out for fuel consumption on longer trips. They are great little machines and increasingly deployed in cars of this ilk, but like hybrids, be aware that you need to tailor your driving to keep the engine revs a bit lower.
I was delighted with the energetic drive and chassis feedback, but I realise that is only part of why I'd look favourably on purchasing one if I was in the market for a compact crossover.
The cabin, larger and better decked out, is a substantial step up in quality.
The higher driving position has helped make these cars so popular and I really got that sense when driving this. Thinner pillars enhanced visibility, too.
My N-Design version on test is a shared range-topper that concentrates on bits and pieces to make it the visually standout model. There's a mega-spread of personalisation options to boot. It's a well-balanced package.
Technically there's an enhanced ProPilot system which semi-autonomously keeps the car in lane - as well as maintaining a safe distance from others. I'm tempted to call it "social distancing for car".
Here's hoping the day isn't far off when such terminology is associated only with cars and is a distant memory for us humans.
Nissan Juke small SUV:
1-litre 3cyl petrol turbo (117PS) 6spd manual. Prices from €21,995; N-Design from €26,950.
Road tax from €190-€200; manual 6l/100km, DCT 6.1 l/100km; 135g/km manual; 138g/km DCT.
Safety spec includes intelligent cruise control, intelligent lane intervention, Emergency Braking with pedestrian/cyclist recognition, rear cross traffic alert.