The 2011 Nissan Juke, like its sibling Cube and the Kia Soul, is another automaker’s bold new style. But like two now infamous vehicles of yesteryear — the Pontiac Aztec and Ford Pinto — any new car design too risky prompts diverse opinions.
With the Juke, the mini-crossover that debuted at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, the reactions were immediate, strong and mixed: Is the Juke an automotive revolution? Is it so ugly it’s cute? Or is the Juke just ugly and ill-conceived?
Regardless, the Juke from a sales perspective, is an unqualified success. In Japan, where the Juke debuted to the public in June 2010, strong sales were immediate. Likewise, in Europe and the United States, early sales have been higher than expected.
The Weekly Drive
Is that a station wagon or is it a coupe? And what’s up with that “frowning” front grill and the oddly positioned headlights?
No one said those exact sentences, but that was the jist of the comments. While scooting around town in the Juke and its turbocharged 4-cylinder with 188 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission, the mini-crossover gave the appearance of a coupe with high-positioned wheels.
But the Juke is a four-door, four-seater (albeit with tight rear seats) and its rear door handles are located flush near the C-pillars and within the window frame.
The exterior is also unique because the front end features a stacked array of lights. Running lamps and indicators are mounted above the front wings, with lenses visible from inside the cabin. It’s a retro look from the 1960s-1970s in rally cars.
And then there’s the front grill. With its prominent frown appearance adding to the other unusual exterior features, the Juke was described astutely by one national reviewer as “downright alien.”
The carmaker’s mantra for the Juke is “The Bold Urban Sport Cross.” Bold is an understatement.
Shifting is smooth, particularly the uplift reverse.
Acceleration is peppy and with the Juke’s 17-inch wheels and tight body, it’s a fun drive.
Could the backseat be any smaller? Two children can sit comfortably, but not two adults taller than 5-foot-5 max.
If the front grill is going to be a face, make it a smile.
Premium unleaded recommended.
Facts & Figures: 2011 Nissan Juke
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.8 seconds (manual transmission).
Airbags: Front and rear head and dual front side-mounted.
Antilock brakes: standard
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 24 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway)
Government Safety Ratings: not tested.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $20,260.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.nissanusa.com
Price As tested: $21,580.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years, unlimited miles; Roadside assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“Nissan’s 2011 Juke is mutt-ugly: The homely hound you adopt because it exudes quirkiness, promises friskiness and suggests an engaging personality. And it is just so.” —- USA Today
“It blends the ride height and looks of a crossover with the soul and sensibility of a hot little hatchback, making for a truly fun-to-drive machine.” —- MSN.com
“For small-crossover shoppers who want a car that stands out, the Juke has become the one to beat.” —- Cars.com
What The Wife Says:
“I wish every car had the same ease when using reverse.”
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Innovation is a good thing, and major props to Nissan with its Juke. It’s fun to drive. It’s economical and it has a lot to offer all packed into a funny-looking little vehicle that’s hard not to like. Now, about that rear seat?”