Nissan Juke Hybrid review

Nissan’s funky compact SUV gets hybrid power for the first time, but is that enough to take it to the top of the class?

Pros: urban economy, best automatic Juke, solid cabin

Cons: mediocre tech, dark rear cabin, unsettled ride

Nissan has finally added hybrid power to the Juke range, giving its compact SUV a modified version of the Renault Captur’s 143hp 1.6-litre petrol hybrid system. In theory, that means more power and better fuel economy, which should be a winning combination for many Juke customers, but will it work out that way on the road?

Nissan Juke Hybrid Design

There isn’t much to mark the Juke Hybrid out from its siblings, so you’ll have to look closely if you want to tell the difference. The first giveaway is the badging on the doors and tailgate, but there’s also a glossy black strip of plastic trim across the top of the grille, which is there for aerodynamic reasons.

Other than that, it’s just like every other Juke, with the funky looks and big lights, as well as the squat stance and low roofline, which is designed to give the car a sporty edge. There’s even a hint of a spoiler below the rear window, which only adds to the illusion. Of course, it isn’t quite as distinctive as its predecessor, but nor is it anything like as divisive.

However, the attitude is much the same, and for those who want such things, personalisation options such as contrasting roof colours are still very much in the offing. Buyers of the N-Design model can choose between metallic black, silver or a reddish-orange colour called Fuji Sunset on the top of their cars.

Nissan Juke Hybrid Interior

It’s tough to tell the Juke Hybrid apart from its siblings from the outside, and the task doesn’t get much easier once you step inside. Concentrate and you might pick out the tweaked instrument cluster that mixes conventional dials and a digital display, but that’s the biggest difference.

Or it would be, were it not for the fact the Juke Hybrid’s boot is considerably smaller than that of the standard car. Officially, a petrol-powered Juke offers a 422-litre load space, but that falls to 354 litres if you choose the Hybrid. While it’s true most of the ‘lost’ space is under the false floor and the Juke Hybrid’s boot is still only a little smaller than that of a VW Golf, it’s an indication of the Nissan’s priorities.

Rear space, too, is slightly limited, with adequate space for kids, but too little head- and legroom for adults to get comfortable on a long journey. It doesn’t help that the rear cabin is quite dark thanks to the sporty seats up front and the small rear windows, but space is at a premium back there.

And it isn’t like the tech saves the day. Admittedly, the latest-generation Nissan touchscreens are much better than their predecessors, but the new system still feels old and underwhelming alongside crisper and more modern attempts by other manufacturers. At least it all works quite well, and the menus are logical and simple to use.

The rest of the Juke’s cabin, however, is surprisingly sporty and quite solid, with a robust feel to all the touch points and switchgear. Sure, some of the plastics are a little cheap in places, but that’s to be expected in a compact car where margins are tight. The same could be said of the Volkswagen T-Cross, for example.

Nissan Juke Hybrid Performance & Drive

As the name suggests, the hybrid system is key to this latest version of the Juke, and it’s a system lifted almost straight from partner firm Renault’s Captur compact SUV. Combining a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic gearbox, it provides 143hp, all of which is sent to the front wheels. As with the petrol-powered Juke, there’s no all-wheel-drive option.

The hybrid system produces 30hp more than the petrol-powered Juke, and it comes with an automatic gearbox as standard. Because the electric motor takes most of the strain when manoeuvring or crawling around town, it’s also more efficient than the petrol engine, burning about five litres of unleaded every 100km on the official economy test. A petrol Juke will use about six litres per 100km.

It all sounds like a no-lose situation, but when you get out on the road, the hybrid system doesn’t stack up so well. Yes, it’s quite refined, switching smoothly between petrol and electric power, and that makes it relaxing to drive in town, but considering it’s the most powerful option in the range, it lacks a bit of punch. Putting your foot down results in mediocre performance and a buzzy, unpleasant racket from the petrol engine.

The brakes, too, have a slightly odd feel – especially if you use the e-pedal feature. That regenerative braking system uses the electric motor to slow the car down, charging the battery and bringing you almost to a halt. It’s good for economy, because it means you use the brakes and engine less once you learn how to use it, but it spoils the feel through the brake pedal as the car tries to decide whether to use friction brakes or the e-pedal system.

All of which is a shame because the Juke drives quite well otherwise. There isn’t too much body lean and though the steering lacks feel, there’s plenty of grip. It’s quite good fun in corners. But the price you pay for that fun is a firm, unsettled ride. It won’t shake your teeth out, but like the petrol Juke, the Juke Hybrid feels bobbly and stiff on the road.

Nissan Juke Hybrid Pricing

Nissan has not yet confirmed pricing for the Juke Hybrid, but it’s expected to cost a similar amount to the equivalent petrol-powered Juke. However, because we don’t expect the Juke Hybrid to be offered in basic XE trim, it may not be quite as wallet-friendly as the cheapest petrol-powered Jukes. That said, it will get all the same equipment as its petrol-engined equivalents, so expect top-of-the-range models to come with alloy wheels, keyless entry and automatic climate control.

Carzone Verdict: 3/5

Although the Juke is not as strong an option as it once was, the hybrid model has a role to fulfil. The 1.0-litre petrol manual is still the most convincing option in the Juke range, but for those who want or need an automatic gearbox, the new Juke Hybrid is considerably better than the automatic petrol versions.

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