It could be said that the Nissan Juke was one of the surprise debuts of 2015.
Before the Juke, the smallest crossover Nissan had to offer was the X-Trail. We tested one last year and, while it was a competent car, left a wide open spot for the growing subcompact crossover market.
Toti Zara, President and Managing Director of Nissan Philippines, announced the Juke's arrival at January 2016 during its debut. Zara kept his word and we now found ourselves on the way to Nissan North EDSA to try out this funky-looking crossover.
Lined up in the dealership were twenty Jukes, draped in eye-catching shades of yellow and red. From its unconventional headlight arrangement to the bulges and curves throughout the exterior, the Juke looks like no other car on the road. It was the same story inside too with its motorcycle inspired center console and round themes in the cabin. , everything was laid out within reach for the driver and passenger. After a quick briefing, we started our cars and begun the long drive to the surfing capital of the North: San Juan, La Union.
As soon as we left the dealer lot, we were getting stares left and right, as if we got out of the house wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit. This car definitely turns heads, with people whipping out their camera phones along EDSA, right up until we reached our first stop over along NLEX. Even as we entered toll booths, people were craning their necks to take a glimpse of the Juke and making the toll operators smile at the sight of these cars was a sure fire way to brighten anyone's day.
So, what is the Juke like on the highway? With 116 PS from its 1.6 liter, four cylinder engine, the Juke is no sports car but it does make a good highway cruiser. Typical of Nissans, the Juke delivers most of its power in the upper ranges of the rev-band. Being a continuously variable transmission, it won't respond as urgently as a dual-clutch transmission but once you adapt your driving to the CVT, you'll find yourself accelerating to highway speeds at under 2,000 rpm. It ate up the miles with ease and, thanks to cruise control, offered a relaxing and pleasurable ride from NLEX to TPLEX. It was comfortable too, despite not having Nissan's trademark 'Zero Gravity' seats (developed by NASA engineers). The Juke never left us with a numb lower back.
After over 150 kilometers of pure highway driving, we finally arrived in the town of Rosario. The drive wasn't over just yet as we had to cover another 70 kilometers of provincial roads. Ahead of us lay a mix of town centers, two way roads and winding mountain passes. It was time to test out the Juke's handling, maneuverability and agility in La Union. As we began the latter half of the trip, people were still taking second glances at our convoy. I'd like to think that we made their day just by showing up in the Juke. It's not all about style in the Juke though, as this crossover offers substance underneath its extroverted exterior.
Helping us on this trip is the Juke's three drive modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. The Normal setting does exactly what it says and what most Juke owners will stick to on a day to day basis. It's easy to drive around town in this setting with its light steering and relatively immediate throttle response when setting off. Put the car on Eco and the steering lightens up, making it a very effective setting when dealing with congested town centers. It also decreases the throttle response to save on fuel. Sport mode on the other hand was a big help for us, especially when overtaking trucks on the byways. It sharpens throttle response, making the most of the 116 PS it has to offers and adds a little more steering feel in the process. It was fun as well when we brought the Jukes to a twisty section of MacArthur Highway. Throughout the remainder of the drive, the Juke proved itself to be a peppy, maneuverable and easy to drive companion on country roads.
Before we knew it, we had arrived at Kahuna Beach Resort in San Juan, La Union. It was a long drive but the Juke was able to take on the long drive with ease and, at the same time, kept us safe and comfortable all throughout the trip.
What did leave a mark on me was the fact that the Juke just kept drawing attention to itself and leaving smiles on people's faces. With the sunset and the beach as our background, I look back at the Juke and say that it fits the young, active lifestyle types quite well with its practicality, along with the bonus of stand out styling.
Unconventional and definitely not boring, the Juke is for people who want to break the norm .