As I was sitting in my Nissan Juke Ti-S at The Glen shopping centre car park moments before turning my engine on to leave, a young couple walks past my car, unaware that I was in there. The young lady turns to her partner and says "I've seen this car around and I hate the way it looks. I can't stand it."
It's a reaction that over the last year of owning the Juke I have had to get used to. It's a love/hate relationship; a bit like Kim Kardashian. It might have been Nissan's plan all along, create a car that has a body like KK – voluptuous.
However with the Juke, you cannot just tell a book by its cover. Masked by its distinctive styling, the Juke Ti-S actually has quite a bit to offer. My weekly drive in winter includes a two-hour trip up the Hume Freeway, country driving for an hour through the gourmet country region, then a half an hour blast up twisty roads to ski resorts. The weather conditions vary greatly from dry sunny days to torrential downpour and blinding blizzards. The Juke Ti-S is capable of handling all of those.
On the freeway, the Juke Ti-S is stable and the suspension settings are comfortable. Even in the rain, the Juke feels composed. The CVT transmission works brilliantly on the freeway. With cruise control on, the transmission modulates the gear ratio to suit the rolling hills as you leave Melbourne. Where other transmissions downshift to keep speed up the hills, the Juke is smooth as silk with the engine increasing its revs ever so smoothly as if the hills were not there.
On the less than perfect roads between Glenrowan and Bright, the Juke is stable. Overtaking on these single lane highways is a breeze with the 140kW available. However, without being able to adjust the angle of the Juke's headlights, it feels like you're staring down at the road rather than forward so there is a heavy reliance on the high beams.
There are a few flaws with the Juke, though, which cannot be dismissed. One is the boot space, or lack thereof. It's hopeless, but if your luggage fits in the boot, then it can be taken on the plane as carry on luggage. Which therefore means that any overnight trips in the Juke would require a roof box for extra storage.
The Juke Ti-S is also incredibly efficient running at approximately 7L/100km. Not bad, but once the roof box is on, efficiency is out the window. Its storage vs efficiency with the Juke; you can't have both.
Reliable? Yes. Servicing costs? Inexpensive. Build quality? Depends on what you're comparing it to, but true to Kim K, there's a lot of plastic. There are lots of little gimmicks in the Juke as well, such as a g-force meter which tells you nothing you don't know, lots of little pieces of information on the drive which gets boring after an hour. The Bluetooth mic for the mobile phone is hopeless. So hopeless in fact, that you're better off putting your phone on speaker and leaving the phone on some sort of holder so that the other person on the line can actually hear what you're saying.
So if you can put all those aside, and possibly the boring nature of the CVT transmission, the Juke isn't that bad. Treat it like a two-seater, lower the back seats and the car becomes much more practical. Carrying more than two people regularly? Maybe look elsewhere.