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February 9, 2016

Review: 2016 Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper CVT

I love the Juke. Say what you want about the styling, but after a week’s worth of driving, I just can’t get tired of it. Among all the cars the revitalized Nissan has brought to market so far, this is the one that’s nailed it dead on. It’s certainly not the perfect vehicle, but it’s young, hip, and different—the very adjectives that Nissan needs if they were to stand a chance against the Toyotas and Hondas of the world. Clearly, this has none of the staidness leftover from the beige leather and fake wood; this is styled to stand out.

At first glance, it’s hard what to make of the styling. Some people have referred to the ROBIOTIC styling as outlandish or weird. I myself found the design to be a cross-breed between a Pokémon and a frog, only to be endeared to it after some time. Nissan says the radical front end is supposed to echo rally cars. Whatever, but I do admire them for this one-of-a-kind treatment. The rounded headlights are mounted low in the nose supplemented by high-mounted slash park lights and signal indicators higher on the hood edge. The rear-end is equally interesting with the boomerang-shaped taillights mounted on the trailing edge. Less talked about, but no less interesting, the slopping rear roofline and bulging fenders give an unabashedly caricature appearance capped off with exaggerated-looking 17-inch wheels. When Nissan says they’re going bold with the Juke, they mean it.

The Juke is labeled as the “sports car of the B-segment crossover”, and the cabin relays that message well. Like most crossovers, you sit relatively higher, but the way the dashboard contours around the driver is unique to it. The expansive front windshield and large side mirrors give excellent front visibility while the front seats offer good back and side support. The meaty three-spoke leather steering wheel adjusts only for tilt, but still falls nicely into hand while the pedals are positioned well. Though it sounds more like function over form, there are still some hints of wackiness like the gas tank-like center console and the floating instrument panel visor. Still, the look is somewhat subdued with the all black treatment broken up by the glossy dark gray metallic trimmings.

Personally, I love the unique Integrated Control System or I-CON in the Juke. I-CON is a versatile, multi-colored system that allows the driver to change the drive and climate modes with a single touch. The control panel, made up of two rotary dials and six buttons, are shared but thanks to a special filter and two-color LED lamps, the selection switches between climate control and drive modes. It sounds gimmicky, but I find it very intuitive and allows for the placement of larger controls that don’t sacrifice any legibility.

The Juke’s standout exterior and sporty interior does serve as the precursor to its biggest flaw: practicality or more specifically, the lack of it. When viewed from the eyes of a college kid or a regular at The Palace Pool Club, there’s nothing wrong with it. The space is good upfront and interestingly enough, despite the small footprint, there’s a copious amount of cubby holes including a lit glove box. Unfortunately, as these kids turn to parents, the Juke loses its edge. Ingress and egress is particularly hard for those in the back not only because of the “hidden” door handles and but because of the oddly cut rear doors and the roofline. The rear seat space itself is extremely tight, offering cozy accommodations even for two adults. Plus, the luggage space isn’t too big—a gym bag and a laptop bag already occupying half of its quoted 251 liters of cargo space. Again, considering its sports car labeling, I guess the rear seats and split-folding rear seats should be considered as bonuses?

So while it’s clear the Juke doesn’t score high on the practicality scale, it does manage to score well in terms of driving fun. The key here is the structure that underpins that sporty-looking body. Built to optimize rigidity and minimize weight, the Juke is the first one in its class to use a cradle-type sub-frame that dampens vibration and harshness while spreading chassis load over a wider area. Together with its nicely tuned suspension, it makes for one corner-loving crossover. Having the power served up solely on the front wheels doesn’t seem to hold the Juke back when it comes to dancing as it can negotiate through any piece of tarmac with little argument. What’s more, it’s quiet and comfortable in doing so. The tall ride height and non-independent rear suspension does serve a bit of under steer and jitteriness over some ruts, but not enough to dampen the fun. The electric power steering is nicely tuned with a good, weighty response as are the brakes with good bite.

The Juke’s chassis is so well balanced that the moment the throttle is opened, I immediately felt it could use a lot more pep. Powering the Juke is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 116 horsepower and 154 Nm of torque. Relying on atmospheric pressure (no turbo here), the Juke will almost always lose during stoplight duels. Most small cars rely on an initially strong pickup only to lose steam as the speeds goes up; the Juke is the opposite. Mash the throttle and it’ll barely chug along. Even with the drive mode set to ‘Normal’ or ‘Sport’, you’ll see just about any other motorized object overtake you. And let’s not even talk about ‘Eco’ which is simply dreadful. It’s only when the engine hits 3,300 rpm does the pace become decent enough. Surprisingly, after overcoming that initial sluggishness (thanks to its 1,332-kilogram curb weight), it’ll hit triple digit speeds easily. There’s also a missed opportunity to put in any form of manual override be it a gate on the shifter or flappy paddles since the Juke really, really needs them, especially on uphill overtakes. Still, treated purely as an urban crawler, it returns 9.34 km/L (average speed 15 km/h).

In the end, what I love about the Nissan Juke is that it’s not trying to be the crossover for everyone. Instead, Nissan grew balls and designed it to be a styling standout that’s individualistic and downright fun. It wears uniqueness on its sleeve and is totally unashamed of it. Sure, it doesn’t score high in practicality or straight-line pace, but it manages to be reasonably priced and well-loaded enough. In fact, I would say it’s the best choice so far in the B-segment crossover category. More than anything though, if it’s the Juke’s mission to get people to talk about Nissan, then it’s already comprised that. This is the sort of vehicle Nissan needs to get back on track.

2016 Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper CVT
Ownership 2016 Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper CVT
Year Introduced 2016
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.6
Aspiration Normally Aspirated, EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 116 @ 5,600
Nm @ rpm 154 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 93~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,135
Width (mm) 1,765
Height (mm) 1,580
Wheelbase (mm) 2,520
Curb Weight (kg) 1,332
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Solid Disc
Tires Yokohama dB Decidel E70 215/55 R 17 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors No, Rear Parking Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. I still like the upcoming Mazda Cx3 better.

    1. Then we shall judge the CX-3. Currently though, the Juke shines as the best one in its class.

  2. nissan, mazda your talking of good quality vehicle.

  3. Drove one and I agree that the visibility in front was a surprise! I didn't expect it to be like that from the outsidr because of the design but it's a different story when you're inside, specifically at the front seat.

    I think the Juke is meant and comfortable for driver and one passenger only. The back seats just isn't ideal for 3 at the back. It's a refreshing vehicle in the Philippine automotive market. :-)

  4. This is one of the strangest front I've ever seen in a car. The rear looks good though. I think a 1.6L engine is too weak for this.

  5. It's tight inside. The styling, well I'm with the "weird car" crowd. It's a kind of toy one gets bored fast. The new Kicks is way better looking than this. Nissan should replace this with that.

  6. Uly I wish you could also do night shots with the cars, we would like to see how the lights look like at night, especially new cars with DRL, projector, rings, LED's as headlights and tail lights :)

  7. bakit kaya sa ibang bansa (car reviews), pangit ang reviews nila sa juke?.. pati yun 1.6 Turbo na juke, so-so lang ang reviews nila?.. Havent driven one, though saw hundreds na, siguro the taste of the cake is in the eating.. maka test drive nga.

  8. ^Its a case of "ugly outside but good inside". One's fondness of this vehicle will be short-lived, especially when competitors come out with a new and much better looking design. The same thing happened when nissan introduced the x-trail to PH market for the first time, "it was selling like hot potatoes" according to one nissan salesman, and then came the competition...

  9. Guys, ano po ba ang mas maganda ang performance at fuel efficient at mas malaki ang capacity ilagay sa tatlo: Nissan Juke, Ford Eco Sport o Chevrolet Trax?

    1. Better wait for the Mazda Cx-3 coming this year. But currently, I would pick the Nissan Juke if I have to choose from the current 3. If you're looking for cargo space, you're looking at the wrong car segment. Buy an AUV/MPV(Innova, adventure, crosswind), they're at the same price range, or you could buy a compact car. It sickens me that people would try to buy an suv shaped car, if you cannot get or afford a proper suv(midsize, or compact suv), get a compact car.

    2. CUVs are useless and is invented by the devil. Mataas lang yun ground clearance. that's it. Go get a proper car or a full SUV. end of story. peace.

  10. I'll wait for the Suzuki Ignis

  11. It`s cute, but I don`t know if it`s comfortable in long drive...

  12. Why did they not carry the 1.6 petrol turbo that is being offered on other countries - 3rd world problems :(

    1. Yup. Probably because nissan thinks we are insignificant. 3rd world problems indeed.

  13. Try comparing it with the Kia Soul diesel A/T available locally. I think the Soul is much better.

  14. so much experimenting apanget ang design . it wont last long.

  15. May paddle shift po ba to?

  16. My friend just got his unit last week. Initially, I don't like the design, but after spending sometime with the car, I learned to appreciate its looks. Compared to our Ecosport, this is far better in so many ways. Just wish it had an armrest and sunroof...

  17. I have a question. Does anyone ever get laid while driving a juke?

    1. I don't think you'll ever get laid in a Juke or any other car in this class for that matter.

  18. my wife sees a juke in our condo parking level everyday and is in love with it. i guess this car's main target are young people and women?

  19. ano mas maganda Nissan Juke or Mazda2 KABUKI Edition or Midnight Edition ????

    1. Mazda 3 2.0 Soul Red, I suggest.

  20. Hi would you guys recommend this for a young professional's first car? I'm looking for something with good points on ground clearance, safety, cozy interiors (including the backseat) and nice exterior :) thank you

  21. nice and perfect surveillance vehicle in the moderate and heavy traffic in the city. due to its perfect turbocharge, i can closely goes near with the audi 8, vw passat and toyota camry. juke is fast and furious car i ever had that flet me confident as private detective.

  22. The roundy parts are so from the previous decade.

    The power output looks measly too for an engine that size.

    I don't see too many of these on the road. Perhaps it's a joke? (Pun intended)

  23. Hi Sir Ulysses, my 2017 Juke N style with 1000km mikeage suddenly lost acceleration, prior I brought it to dealer to check the service warning light. It was easily fixed by pkugging through a laptop to reset the ecu, that is his explanation.I have goodled it and there are same complaints abroad.

    Please advise.



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