If you need a car that blends into the background, look somewhere else. Nissan's Juke is a small SUV that's sold like hot cakes because it makes a visual statement. The second generation version keeps the design extreme but adds more space, smarter looks, extra equipment, greater efficiency and plenty of personalisation options.
The Juke range kicks off in second generation form with the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine we've already seen in Nissan's Micra supermini, with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an all-new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, replacing the CVT transmission previously offered. Power stands at 115hp with up to 200Nm of torque available on overboost. Nissan claims 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds for the manual and 11.1 seconds for the DCT automatic variant, with both topping out at 112mph. From the manual model, expect a WLTP-rated combined cycle fuel figure of 47.9mpg and a WLTP-rated CO2 figure of 135g/km.
At the wheel, long-time Juke owners will find the driving position is massively improved - there's at last a reach-adjustable steering wheel and smart Monoform sports seats are standard. In the manual model, the gear lever now sits more purposefully on the centre console and operates with a shorter throw.
Plus of course there's plenty of driver-assistance technology, primarily Nissan ProPILOT, the brand's semi-autonomous driver aid. This is capable of controlling the throttle, braking and steering while driving in a single lane on motorway-style roads. It's optional on N-Connecta trim cars and standard from Tekna grade upwards. In addition, the Juke gains intelligent automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, speed-limit and traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Yes, the Juke does still look like either something dredged up from the abyssal depths of the ocean or a fun, friendly and futuristic little runabout, depending on your perspective. Whichever camp you're in, you have to hand it to Nissan for not losing its resolve and watering this design down. Buyers of the original model will recognise this second generation version with its exaggerated wheel arches, rising window line, strong shoulders and a squat rear end. The full-LED circular headlights placed high on the front bumper reference those of the original Juke's, and feature a new Y-shaped signature. Above them sit new, slim LED daytime running lights that flank the nose and a narrow grille. This MK2 model is 35mm wider and 75mm longer nose to tail than before, but most significantly, the wheelbase has increased by 105mm. It certainly appears a larger, more spacious car.
The cabin delivers on that promise, with rear knee room increasing by 58mm and headroom growing by 11mm. Sitting on top of the revised fascia is a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while some cars will also be available with a seven-inch colour driver-information display within the instrument panel. Out back, the hatch is 131mm wider than before and it accesses a boot that's now 422-litres in size, an increase of 68-litres over the first generation model.
You probably know the guy who complains that all new cars look the same but has nothing good to say when a brand like Nissan brings out something different and fresh. Don't be that guy. The Juke has deservedly carved itself a lucrative niche for itself with an inexpensive vehicle that drives well, is cheap to run and which isn't afraid to assert its own personality. The second generation model's design remit doesn't alter that fundamental appeal but smartening the looks, creating a bigger cabin and adding more technology certainly isn't going to do the Juke's prospects any harm.
It remains an unusual proposition, with an appeal that extends beyond the small crossover segment and also attracts the kind of buyers who might otherwise consider trendy small runabouts like Fiat's 500 and the MINI Hatch. Juke buyers think that this car makes urban trinkets like those look rather dull and compromised. It's an original. In every sense.Click here to find out more about our Nissan Juke range