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Nissan Juke 1.6 DiG-T Tekna

Click to view picture gallery“Following on from the Murano in
  2005, Qashqai in 2007 and its
  stablemate Qashqai +2 a year later,
  the Juke is the latest in Nissan’s
  Crossover series — and it
  sufficiently different and dynamic
  to make you think again about
  what you want in a traditional super-
  mini hatchback

CREATED IN NISSAN'S LONDON DESIGN CENTRE, the Juke is built in Sunderland and Nissan anticipate selling 25,000 of them in the UK in a full year. There are Visia, Acenta and Tekna grades with 115bhp 1.6-litre petrol, 109bhp 1.5 diesel and 188bhp 1.6 DiG-T direct injection turbocharged petrol engines on offer with two- or four-wheel drive, five- and six-speed manual 'boxes and a CVT auto, all depending on the chosen model.

Two-wheel drive Juke models have fairly conventional strut and torsion beam suspension but the range-topping 4WD version is fitted with the Qashqai-developed multi-link set-up. The CVT package includes the handling enhancement of torque-vectoring; a simple but nevertheless sophisticated way to transfer drive not only from front-to-back but side-to-side when sensors detect it is needed to optimise handling and grip.

The Juke is aimed
squarely at style-
conscious motorists who
want the practicality
of a family hatchback
but looks which set them
apart from the crowd
Clever design makes the Juke's flowing coupe-like profile resemble a three-door shape but within it's really a more practical five-door design. All models have ESP electronic stability, six airbags and air conditioning.

Acenta versions gain climate control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a multi-purpose central command and display module, while the top Tekna models have leather upholstery, Nissan Connect telematics, remote key and a reversing camera.

Nissan is predicting that 80% of buyers will be new to the brand meaning the Juke is expected to make significant conquest sales. Prices range from 12,995 to 20,345 and to help things along there's a 5.9% APR finance scheme available.

With its noticeable ground clearance and high waistline, the Juke looks like an off-roader but the top model's multi-link suspension serves up a surprisingly smoothly ride. Even five-speed manual models, with either the 1.5 dCi diesel or 1.6-litre petrol engine, have adequate power available for keeping up in the urban rat race; gear changes are easy and the Juke responds very well to steering and braking inputs. The more potent turboed models will hit 62mph from standstill in a crisp 8 seconds.

Visibility is not brilliant but the Juke is comfortable enough thanks to figure-shaped seats and the compliant chassis; this will also be useful in mild off-road situations where good wheel-travel and ground clearance is needed. The room in the back is fine for two but it would be a squeeze for three. Boot space is very good with a maximum 830 litres available.

On the road, the Juke 1.6 DiG-T direct-injection turbocharged 188bhp petrol unit was surprisingly sporty in feel for what is intended to be a family car thanks to its car-like suspension set-up.

The Juke is aimed squarely at style-conscious motorists who want the practicality of a family hatchback but looks which set them apart from the crowd.

About the only real complaint is the limited rear-side and rear-quarter visibility. Outweighing that are the 'fors': stylish, distinctive, a practical family crossover and good to drive. Not only is the Juke one of the most distinctive models on the market, it's also very good where it matters to drivers. Robin Roberts

Nissan Juke 1.6 DiG-T Tekna | 17,395
Maximum speed: 134mph | 0-62mph: 8 seconds | Overall MPG: 40.9mpg
Power: 188bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 159g/km