THE JUKE BOX PLAYS BUGEYE, CITROEN, SHARK JAW & SWOOSH
2013 Nissan Juke
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Published on Sat, Jul 13, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran Segina 2013 NISSAN JUKE SL AWD CVT “And when do we have to give this cute car back?” This query from the Tall Girl, my beloved co-pilot on the roadway of life, is highly unusual. When it comes to things automotive, the Tall Girl prefers familiarity, and does not like to change cars. Moreover, she can be highly critical of the features and settings that do not suit her—notwithstanding the prominence of the brand or the suggested retail price. Without naming names, there were several very expensive products from well-known manufacturers which she found unacceptable. So, Nissan, consider this a huge compliment from a completely unbiased and highly discerning reviewer. The most prominent feature on the 2013 Nissan Juke is a very pronounced proboscis. The front end bulges forward ending almost in a wedge. The automotive history buffs will be reminded of the famous Bugeye Sprite, an Austin Healy model from the late fifties all the way to 1971. Upon closer inspection the overall undulating shape does remind one of the Citroen ID and DS saloons, a brilliant design by Andre Citroen which become sensation back in the sixties. The front fascia is dominated by headlights topped with protrusions that house positioning lights and blinkers. The bottom section is split resembling an aggressive jaw of a shark. Or some other aquatic animal with foglights. The black motif under the executive gold color stretches over the wheel wells, under the door sills, over the rear wheels and on the bottom of the rear end. The Francophone theme of the Juke is further attenuated by a large front that tapers toward the back.
One of the interesting design nuggets on this four-door compact sedan is a rear door handle which is flushed into the C pillars right behind the windows. It is an almost identical feature found on the Alfa Romeo Gullietta. When the Alfa crossed the ocean, and become the Dodge Dart, this feature was, unfortunately, removed. It is comforting to know that Nissan believes in Americans’ ability to handle flush door handles. The Juke does have automatic door lock controls. A sunroof antenna and a rear black spoiler nicely complement sweeping design line from the front windows to the tinted rear ones. Rear view mirrors are accented in black. The roofline with a wing falls toward the tapered rear which houses lights that follow into the curvature of the hind quarter panels. The rear lights resemble giant Nike swoosh marks. The inside is dominated by a generously designed dashboard with a round, collapsible ventilation openings and two similarly designed speakers in the A pillars. The tachometer and the speedometer are shielded by a device that looks like a little roof. Three spoke leather covered steering wheel contains radio and cruise controls. The interior is simple but functional. The steering columns has rake, but not telescopic adjustment. The anti-glare function on the rear view mirror is a simple flip. Front windows are electric, but only the driver’s side has one-push control function. The basic interior is made livelier by the interplays of the colors, black hard plastic with textile accents on the doors, followed by a grey plastic cover on the center console. The Juke does have a rear view camera, and intuitive, easy-to-use satellite map navigation.
The most interesting part of the dashboard is below. Nissan calls it integrated control system. It consists of two generously proportioned buttons titled “climate” and the D or “drive” mode. A press on the “climate” button turns on the lights indicating controls for heating and air conditioner. If, however, one presses the “drive” mode, the lettering on these very buttons changes. This allows the driver to circle between the Normal drive—which is default mode—as well as the Sport and Eco drive. The two buttons switch functions seemingly by miracle. The right one controls setup, illumination, door lock and, drive information such as fuel consumption. The next feature is Eco information which shows records related to economy driving. These data become important should one choose to drive in the Eco mode—the Juke changes shifting points, and very notably rearranges engine management. The spirited compact becomes much slower but saves gas. For example at forty miles per hour, the engine will drop one thousand revolutions per minute (RPMs) between Sport and Eco mode.
In the Sport mode, the floor shifter can be pushed to the left for manual shifting. The Juke can be slowed with engine braking, and despite a limited engine capacity, the RPMs hold. The seats are mechanical but hug the body well, and the seatbelts can be height-adjusted. The Tall Girl finds the Juke comfortable—another compliment for Nissan. The left side of the dashboard houses the controls for all-wheel drive, however, during the too short a time in the Juke there was no opportunity to examine its off-road capabilities. With the tapered end the rear seats do not offer much space. There are signs of cost cutting measures. The driver’s seat has no rear pocket, but the passenger’s seat does. Rear seats contain cupholders that are molded in the shape of the seat. A limited trunk space can be enlarged by collapsing one or both rear seats – a very easy operation. Part of the trunk is taken by large Rockford-Fosgate amplifier.
The Juke represents a rarity in today’s field of automotive sameness—a vehicle that triggers strong emotional reaction in those who encounter it. The Tall Girl loves the car, but cannot stand its gold colored paint. That color confused several bees and other assorted bugs that mistook the gold-colored Juke for a flower and swarmed the car attempting to pollinate the front left quarter panel. On the other hand, my mechanic William finds the color combination perfect. Amy in the ML 350 also likes the color. She had a Nissan before and enjoyed it. Mary Ellen finds the Juke adorable, but misses the handle above the driver’s door. Scott, who approached us in the parking lot, proclaims that this is the ugliest vehicle he has ever seen. This harsh opinion is countered by Joe who approaches me in a different parking lot and says he likes the Juke. And what other car allows one to wave at girls in other Jukes on the freeway, and receive a friendly wave in return? On a warm Southern California evening the Tall Girl is complaining that her seat is too warm. My patient explanation that I cannot find the controls which means that the Juke does not have heated seats is met with an icy stare (isn’t she on a heated seat?) followed by less than complimentary remarks about my ability to evaluate the offered features on the vehicles I review. After a detailed analysis of the owner’s manual I manage to locate the controls under the removable armrests. Our friend accidentally turned the seat heating on earlier that evening. The temperature thus lowered, I wisely decide to omit, for the time being, the vignette about waving at female Juke owners on a freeway. Lest I find myself in a hot seat with no easy “off” button. For more information about Nissan products, go to www.nissanusa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Nissan Juke SL AWD CVT Price: $18,990 (S FWD CVT, base) $24,640 (SL AWD CVT, base) $29,065 (SL AWD CVT, as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway LA Car mileage observed: 27 mpg Engine: 1.6-liter direct injection gasoline turbocharged DOHC engine with variable timing control system Horsepower: 188 @5600 rpm Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 2000-5200 rpm Transmission: Continuously variable automatic transmission with torque vectoring all-wheel drive Steering: Power steering, vehicle dynamic control Drive configuration: All-wheel drive Suspension Front: Independent Rear: Multi link Brakes Front: 11.7 x 1.0 inch discs with ABS anti-lock, and power assist Rear: 11.5 x 0.4 inch discs with ABS anti-lock Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy with 215/55 R 17 all-season tires with tire pressure monitoring Dimensions Length: Width: Height: Curb weight: 2,959 pounds Performance: 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds