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First Drive: 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT

 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT(select to view enlarged photo)

Sporty alternative for conventional hatch backs


By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
Amsterdam Bureau

FRANKFURT, July 17. A couple of weeks before the world premiere at the 2010 Geneva auto show, Nissan unveiled the Juke in Paris for a small media attendance. STORY HERE

There, Alfonso Albaisa, vice president of design of the London based Nissan Design Europe (NDE), said that the styling of the new model was deliberately ‘different’ from that of other players in its the fast growing segment. In Europe this is dubbed the B-segment. In the meantime new competitors have been presented such as the Audi A1, Citroën DS3 and the Mini Countryman, that will all arrive at the European market in the fall. Although they may also be a bit different from the hatch backs that up till now have filled the segment, the Juke indeed stands out in more than one way.

 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT (select to view enlarged photo)

It is a crossover of an SUV and a sports car, and unusual for the segment, the Juke has the availability of AWD. Admitted, the Mini Countryman will also offer AWD, but that model lacks the sporty looks of the Juke. The sleek roof line and broad shoulders of the Nissan vaguely reminds you of the design of the Z models and provide the Juke a self-confident personality.
 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT (select to view enlarged photo)

With large 17-inch wheels, a higher ground clearance than normal and wheel wells in a contrasting colour the car looks robust. SUV qualities are provided by the availability of Nissan’s brand new All Mode 4x4i system, as well as by the slightly higher seating position for the passengers.

Lightest in the world

 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT(select to view enlarged photo)

In October, the Juke will arrive in U.S. showrooms, available with a choice of three engine, two petrol and one diesel, in three levels that rather indicate equipment than exterior trim. The top model is the AWD 1.6 DIG-T with a 4-cilinder turbocharged engine in combination with the second generation Xtronic CVT continuously variable automatic transmission with six-speed manual mode.

The 1.6 engine has VVT for both intake and is the first world wide that has dual injectors for each cylinder. VVT for both in In SV or SL trim, the Juke has front wheel drive, while the engine works together with a six speed manual transmission.

 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT (select to view enlarged photo)

The all-aluminum engine is the first of a new generation down sized engines with direct injection and produces 140 kW/190 hp and 177 ft-lb of torque. It is the most powerful in its class.

The new All Mode 4x4i-system has and no clutch, but a torque converter with lock-up, which splits torque up to 50:50 between the front and rear axles and up to 100 per cent to either of the rear wheels. TVS uses electric clutches, one for each rear wheel and gets information through sensors that measure speed, steering angle, G-forces and slip angle. According to Nissan it is the lightest torque vectoring system used so far and means a weight saving of around 66 lbs. The AWD model also has multilink rear suspension, instead of the torsion beam that is used in the front-wheel drive model.

The other petrol engine is the new, light weight 16-valve 1.6-liter with 86 kW/117 hp and 117 lb.ft of torque. The 1.5-liter dCI common rail diesel delivers 81 kW/110 hp and 177 lb.ft of torque. The petrol engine is offered with a 5-speed manual or the XCT, and the diesel engine is timed to a 6-speed manual.

On the road

 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT(select to view enlarged photo)

Different styling was also applied to the interior of the Juke. Although the plastic surfaces are hard and the roof lining looks a bit cheap, the design makes you forget about that. The glossy red center console is, according to Albaisa, inspired by the tank of a motor bike. The same coloured details in the door panels and the red stiching on the seats provide a dynamic look.
 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT (select to view enlarged photo)

I could easily find the right position for the driver’s seat, but the lack of in-depth adjustment of the steering wheel may have limitations for taller people. Though my 6’2” tall co-driver did not have a problem. In the back the head room is thanks to the sloping roofline a bit lower.

 2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T CVT (select to view enlarged photo)

The driving route took us along the Rhine river and into the country. The CVT could also be shifted manually, but alas, no paddle shifters. Now you have to move the lever back and forth, a missed chance!

The turbo engine is really strong, we were amazed, but should not have been should we have realized it has 190 hp. Maximum torque moves around the 3,000 rpm level and provides a lot of pulling power. Nissan claims the 0-62 mph acceleration to be 8.4 seconds, which we believe. The same engine with 2WD should be able to do the sprint in 8.0 seconds.

Handling of the all-wheel-drive Juke is very good. In turns and longer bends the car is stable and when using sport mode, that changes a bit the steering input, the Juke reacts swiftly and precise. The lane change is performed effortless and without too much roll of the body.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Fun detail is that the different modes of the Integrated Control system are shown on the display in the lower center part of the dashboard. In Sport the display shows turbo boost, in Normal you see torque. Also G-forces are displayed if you wish. It is a nice gimmick to play with in the beginning and to show to your friends, but you’ll soon leave it as it is… Especially for the crowded and narrow European roads, the Nissan Juke offers a nice combination of compact size, and good handling.

Pricing of the Nissan Juke will start just below 20,000 Euro in The Netherlands, one of the most expensive countries in Europe when it comes to cars. Expect the prices in the U.S. to start just below $20,000. The 1.6 DIG-T with CVT and AWD will probably cost just over $ 30,000. The Juke will arrive in U.S. showrooms in October 2010.