Car Review: Nissan - Juke  Series 10 (3 stars)

The Nissan Juke aims to steal supermini sales with some SUV chic - a gamble that works

The small SUV market is turning into one of those 'how many people can you fit in a Mini?' stalls you see at the occasional summer fete - it's getting terribly overcrowded out there, with arms and legs sticking out all over the place.

Of course, it's Nissan's fault for starting the whole thing in the first place with Qashqai, which turned out to be so popular with school-run mums. It has only added to the congestion with its larger Murano and now the slightly odd Juke.

The Juke takes the crossover idea down a notch, proving almost supermini-like in dimensions but still with that 4x4 stance and butch styling. Ah, the styling, which is surely going to divide opinion like so many other Nissan stable mates. We happen to like the styling; it is pitched well at its young target audience. Kudos for Nissan for transferring so much from the concept car that caused many a sharp intake of breath.

The Juke doesn't drive like a supermini, but with hips like that it was never going to be much of a dancer. The steering is a little limp but the car handles with more alacrity than you might first expect. The ride is slightly firm, but probably needs to be to keep body roll in check. We found the seats quite comfortable, though, which compensated for any bumps that might get through to the cabin.

The Juke is built on the same platform as the Nissan Micra, so that's the yardstick for interior space. It's actually quite roomy, designed for four people who can sit inside in comfort. It isn't a premium car, and the price reflects that, and whilst quality of materials is generally quite there are a few shaky moments on the dashboard that needn't be there. The 1.6-litre range-topping petrol engine lends the Juke some useful pace against the anticipated competition from the Mini Cooper S, but that engine's soundtrack isn't particularly inspiring. We liked the1.5-litre diesel, a Nissan stalwart that actually fits quite well, matched with the 6-speed manual gearbox.

It's a hard car to pigeonhole, the Juke - it sits on paper with other compact SUVs, but is aimed at completely different buyers, people who are leafing through Citroen DS3 brochures, or looking at other fashionable cars like the Audi A1. It has character and style, which will surely stand it in good stead.

Nissan Juke StatisticsCar Reviews

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