Nissan Juke 1.2T Acenta+ (2015) Review

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The Nissan Juke has been a seriously popular car thanks to a range of great engines, solid build quality and quirky looks. Those looks have won it many fans but also its fare share of enemies. Now the Nissan Juke has been the subject of a mild facelift and this newer model features a small-capacity turbo engine, tested here in 1.2T Acenta+ guise.

Quirky Looks Remain

Few cars are as striking as a yellow Nissan Juke and it attracted attention from hordes of onlookers. You'd usually expect similar reactions from people seeing an exotic sports car. Nevertheless, the facelifted Nissan Juke 1.2T features revised headlights that look similar to the Nissan 370Z sports car and there are LED daytime running lights thrown into the mix too. There's a new grille and air intake as well, while the rear gains some revised light clusters as well.

All-New Engine

The big change is the new engine, which is a 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit. This engine is sourced from the Renault/Nissan parts bin and we've had prior experience with it in the Renault Megane GT-Line and Renault Captur (albeit mated to a twin-clutch transmission). Power is rated at 85 kW with torque coming in at 190 Nm, and while it doesn't appear to be very potent, you must remember that downsizing usually comes with the added benefit of good fuel economy. This new turbo engine replaces the venerable 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated unit which is now outclassed by smaller, turbo motors.

Due to its small size, Nissan claims the Juke 1.2T consumes just 5.6L/100km and in reality, we weren't that far off with a reasonable 7L/100km appearing on the trip computer. Economy is not the vehicle's strong point however. The engine is just so willing to please and there's very little lag. Power reaches the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, and it offers a pleasant and engaging driving experience. While it's not overly sporty, it feels more athletic than its claimed 0-100kph of around 10.5 seconds make it appear.

Sporty Ride and Decent Specification

The Juke's ride is sporty, yet forgiving and you are easily fooled into thinking you're driving something small and fun. It tips the scales at 1 163kg and it handles very unlike a baby SUV. If you're after some performance, there's also a 1.6-litre turbocharged motor with 140 kW and 240 Nm, which is the most entertaining to drive. It's quite fun to throw around bends, but remember the laws of physics do apply and this is a crossover after all. It rides impressively over rough surfaces and there's no worry about bits dropping off it if you gun it down a dirt road. It is quite stiffly sprung so you feel the bumps but not in a clattering way.

The Nissan Juke 1.2T gets a decent amount of kit as standard. This includes front and rear fog lamps, cruise control, six airbags, ISOFIX baby seat anchors, remote keyless access, Bluetooth connectivity and a leather-clad steering wheel. In Acenta+ spec, you also get rain-sensing wipers, suede-upholstered seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and keyless access. The interior is maybe not as stylish as its rivals but is well-built and made to last.

Summary and Conclusion

The Nissan Juke 1.2T is an excellent car and this revised version with its new engine couldn't have arrived at a better time. Ford's EcoSport and the new kid on the block Renault Captur have been running away with sales. Those products definitely offer more cabin space and similar power outputs, but there's something to be said about the Juke's superior build quality. We'd argue the Nissan has the most engaging and entertaining drive, so if that's what you're after and you're willing to sacrifice some boot space, then the Juke looks appetising.

Team Opinions

Lovely engine and certainly well-made, but it's not a direct rival for the likes of Duster, Captur and EcoSport, as it is compromised in terms of space in the rear and the boot. - Hannes Oosthuizen

The Nissan Juke is a love or hate vehicle. Styling aside, the engine is well-suited and the Juke feels impressively solid out on the road. It's a bit small inside compared to its rivals but feels better put together. - Ashley Oldfield

Nissan Juke 1.2T Price in South Africa

The Nissan Juke 1.2T range starts at R258 700 for the Acenta, while the Acenta+ tested here retails for R282 100. All Nissan Jukes come with a 3-year/45 000km service plan and a 3-year/100 000km mechanical warranty.

We Like: Terrific engine, specification, unique, ride quality

We Don’t Like: Small boot

Also Consider: Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur

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Nissan Juke 1.2T Acenta+ Quick Specs