IT’S the least surprising announcement of the year but, strangely, it’s also the one that gets me the most excited.
You see before you the next Nissan Juke, the long-awaited follow-up to the original baby crossover.
Yes, it’s still covered in sticky back plastic ahead of its official unveil on September 3. But I’ve seen it naked, driven it, and will probably get a slap from a black-belt Nissan ninja for sharing what I’m about to tell you.
It’s worth the risk.
Juke has been such a crucial car for Britain — Sunderland has made more than a million in ten years — that Juke 2 needs to be better than good.
Thankfully, it is.
OUT goes the Marmite looks. Most notably the “bug eye” headlights on top of the cartoon front-wheel arches and that bulbous rear bumper.
IN comes a more sophisticated, more athletic Juke with a fresh, intelligent cabin that is roomier in all directions.
When the original Juke hit showrooms in 2010, it was the first of a new breed. It was cramped. It was fugly. But it was different. And that was its USP.
Today, it has 21 rivals including the Toyota C-HR, Fiat 500X, Seat Arona, VW T-Cross, Audi Q2, Renault Captur and so on.
So Nissan designers had to nail the follow-up. They took their time, a bit more time, and then another two years, to finish that “difficult second album”.
Yep, we’ve been waiting for Juke 2 since 2017. Here’s what you need to know.
The boot is a fifth bigger at 420 litres — that’s the same size as a Qashqai — and the increased rear passenger space will happily house the longest-legged teens.
Up front, the quality is different gravy. A floating 8in touchscreen crowns the soft-to-touch dashboard, there’s another 7in display in the instrument panel, plus all sorts of personalisation, and a Mini-like illuminated ring around the gearbox.
Nissan Juke: key facts
- Price: £17,000 (est)
- Engine: 1-litre 3-cylinder turbo petrol
- Power: 117hp, 200Nm
- Economy: 45mpg
- 0-62mph: 10.2secs
- Top speed: 120mph
- CO2: 136g/km
- Out: November
(Official figures to be confirmed at launch)
For a car which starts around £17,000, it’s very impressive.
Splash out on options like Bose headrest speakers, a WiFi hotspot for eight devices, TomTom satnav with Google Street View and Google Home Assistant and you’ve got a tasty proposition for families who want plenty of kit but can’t afford something German.
Intelligent services include curfew, speed and zone alerts to keep an eye on the wife — sorry, I meant kids — when they blag the car for the night.
Juke 2 is all change under the skin too. Lighter, stiffer, longer wheelbase, quicker steering, uprated front suspension, bigger brake discs.
Q&A with Nissan’s design chief Matt Weaver
WHAT does your missus think of the new Juke?
(Laughs) We’re not allowed to show anyone.
YOU must have shown her a picture . . .
It’s very top-secret. But you can tell people within the company are genuinely very happy with it. They see the evolution.
WAS it a difficult second album? It’s almost two years late.
Exactly right – difficult second album. The first car, strong statement, lasted nine years, sold over a million. So for us, we knew it wasn’t so urgent.
It was still selling well and still leading the segment. In the design process of the second one, yes, we had to reposition a few times and understand what customers wanted, what Juke actually is, having invented the segment.
ARE you happy with the end result?
I’m very proud of it. We wanted the car to be more sporty, more mature, a bit more premium, but keep that strong Juke DNA.
I truly believe everyone will go: “Oh yeah, that’s definitely the new Juke.”
CAN you describe it for Sun readers?
It’s like a little ball of muscle. A real urban hustler. Sporty to drive. But above all else, the quality has gone up, particularly the interior. The car feels more complete.
DOES it stand out enough?
It won’t polarise like the first Juke because that changed the public’s eye. I think the stance and proportions will stand out more this time.
THE easy option was a delicate nip-tuck, like VW does with the Golf.
With the first Juke, it would have been very easy to do a miniature Qashqai but the decision was to make it its own personality, to open up a market segment of its own and own it. We broke quite a few eggs to make an omelette then.
This time round, that philosophy is still there. It’s not just small cosmetic changes.
We try to give the customer a lot of bang for their buck, not only in the content of the car but the design expression. We want people to be individuals. It’s a big change but still inherently Juke.
WILL there be a hot Nismo version?
The strategy will evolve going forward. The car should drive the way it promises and I think it’s got room to grow in its line-up, for sure.
I love sports cars, so I’d love to see a 500hp fire-breathing version . . . but that might be a personal project.
WHAT’S next from you?
You always ask me that.
WELL, you’re not doing The Sun crossword all day, are you?
We showed you a concept car with “Q” in its prefix in March . . .
THANK you, Matt. Good job.
All these things make the car feel more controlled and darty and more fun.
Engine choice is easy as there’s only one. It’s the 115hp, one-litre three-pot turbo, first seen in the Micra N-Sport, with a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto. No diesel. Mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids to follow in 2020.
So there you have it. Juke 2 is finally here, almost. Same but very different.
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