Young at heart

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By Nick Jones

Believe it or not, Nissan have produced rather a lot of 4x4’s – X-Trail, Qashqai, Pathfinder and not forgetting he Murano and the amazing GT-R.

So they’re pretty good at building them and we, as the buying public, have had no qualms about buying them either.

So when the green light was shown for yet another, the Juke was born.

It’s a small SUV that can be had as a 4x4 or 2WD, but I’m guessing the crossover point will mean that primarily it will be sold as a car with the promise of 4x4 capabilities.

To look at it one would think that mud-plugging would be its forte assuming the size of the wheel arches, body protection and ground clearance and to some degree you’d be right.

But Nissan has gone for the great drive on the black stuff first-and foremost and it tells once you get on to it.

It’s smooth, powerful and quite nimble all-in, and you don’t get tired of driving it.

Power comes from a hearty 1.6-litre turbo engine that produces no less than 188bhp, good enough to see it hit 135mph, with 0-60mph taking just 8 seconds.

You can, using a button near the transmission, change its driving ‘moods’ between Sport, Normal and Eco, the latter producing a throttle map that even on full throttle only allows you to poddle around doing your bit for the environment.

So, straight into Sport then and the Nissan serves up weighted steering, sharper throttle response and a greater driving experience.

Ride comfort isn’t compromised as a result, the MacPherson struts up-front handle turn-in very well and the 4x4 version adds a special multi-link set-up at the rear to enhance handling further.

The 4x4 system itself is Nissan’s ALL-MODE system that distributes power between the front and rear axles, just when it’s needed – and in the event of any slip that is detected.

In the looks department it will not be to everyone’s taste, it has to be said, but I loved it.

It has not one but effectively two sets of lights at the front and huge overhangs moulded over a smart set of chunky alloy wheels.

The roofline catches the eye as the slope seems to disappear at the back into a rather squat, haunched set-up; all in keeping with the car’s youthful appearance, one has to say.

One design cue I liked was the rear door handles integrated into the ’C’ pillars.

On the inside, Nissan are and always have been renowned for great build quality and the Juke doesn’t disappoint.

The centre console takes precedence, the dials are small but have deep cowls and the fit and finish is right up there with the best.

For a small 4x4 I had plenty of room up-front and I would imagine three adults could be taken reasonably comfortably on a lesser journey.

The boot isn’t the biggest of the breed, but it can accommodate 250+ litres, more so if you utilise the rear seats 60/40 split capability.

Price wise, the fun starts at £13,395 for the 1.6-litre petrol ‘Vista’ version, while my test car was £18,095.

Middle of the range would see you spending £16,000, which would buy you the diesel 1.5dCi ‘Acenta’ version.

Petrol or diesel is purely your choice, but the Juke turbo I drove delivers 37mpg. The frugal dCi 1.5-litre will. top 50mpg.

Young at heart it really is, and I think if that’s the market Nissan go for they’re on to a sure fire-winner here.