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Nissan's New 2011 Juke Has An Odd Name But It's Not a Joke - VIDEO ENHANCED

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel Detroit Bureau

SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyers Guide

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As the automotive world moves inexorably toward smaller and smaller vehicles to meet environmental and mileage demands, vehicle design will have a more important role than ever before. With the new 2011 Juke crossover Nissan has thrown down the gauntlet as a challenge to all manufacturers: top this if you can! That’s serious business.

I can’t remember when a new, modestly priced car has evoked so much interest on a media ride and drive. At every stop, and there were many, during the recent introduction in British Columbia, it generated lots of unsolicited comments, questions including: “What is it?” “Great looking car.” “Wow!” “Who makes it?” “When will it be out?” “Cool, really cool!” If that’s a good gauge of consumer interest (and it is) Nissan dealers will be elated as the Juke comes to market next month.

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Exterior Design
Design is such a personal reaction or statement, I seldom comment on it except in arcane car-designer-speak which is difficult to understand. In this instance however let’s drop pretention and say, “On first glance this is a sensational looking coupe crossover!” But wait. That’s incorrect. On closer, up close and personal examination this is not a coupe crossover, it’s a four door compact crossover. The rear door handles are deceptively, beautifully hidden in the B-pillar that evokes feelings of a coupe, which it isn’t. The front is startling and the back is different. And even very good photos, like those shown here, cannot, do not do justice to the looks of the Juke. It’s a you’ve gotta see it vehicle.

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Interior Design
Inside the Juke the aggressiveness continues with a design that is exceptional and signals this is gonna be a fun drive. There’s a nice combination of colors and materials (four in total) that please the eye, the touch and the posterior too. The instrument panel/cluster and center console were inspired by motorcycle fuel tanks are a finished a really high gloss paint and are certainly a different look. Shifting is reminiscent of a sportscar. The front driver and passenger seats are comfortable with adequate leg room, the 60/40 rear seats bench seats could hold 3 adults with short legs in cramped area. Three different models of the Juke are available, here are their standard features:

Standard Features on Juke S include:

    • 1.6 liter direct inject engine
    • Xtronic CVT with S-Mode
    • Speed sensitive power-assisted steering
    • 4 wheel disc brakes
    • 17” aluminum-alloy wheels
    • All season tires
    • 6 way manual drivers seat
    • 4 way manual passengers seat
    • Drive computer w/outside temperature
    • Drive one-touch power windows
    • Remote keyless entry
    • Speed sensitive door locks
    • Automatic off-headlights
    • Cruise control w/steering wheel controls
    • Steering wheel audio controls
    • Map lights
    • 6 air bags
    • Dual front and rear beverage holders
    • Speed-sensitive automatic door locks
    • AM/FM/cd audio system with steering wheel controls
    • Bluetooth hands-free phone system V
    • Interface system for ipod
    • Storage under the rear cargo floor (fwd models only)
    • Vehicle dynamic control
    • Traction control system
    • Electronic brake force distriburtion and brake assist
    • Front seat active head restraints
    • Vehicle immobilizer system
    • Vehicle security system
    • Tire pressure monitoring

Juke SV Adds:

    • Intelligent key w/push button start
    • XM Satellite radio
    • I-con system
    • USB port
    • Privacy glass
    • Power moonroof
    • Leather wrapped steering wheel
    • Premium cloth
    • Passenger seat map pocket

Juke SL Adds:

    • Leather appointed seats
    • Heated Front seats
    • Leather wrapped shift knob
    • Navigation system
    • Rearview monitor
    • Upgraded speakers
    • Rockford Fosgate powered audio
    • Fog lights
    • Auto on/off headlights

Also Available Options with Prices

    • Splash guards $ 120
    • Chrome package $ 540
    • Stainless steel exhaust $ 95
    • Carpeted floor mats and cargo $ 170
    • Alarm impact sensor $ 120
    • Illuminated kick plates $ 280
    • Interior illumination package $ 490
    • Sport Package $1,380
    • Rear roof spoiler $ 390
    • Gun metal wheels $ 950

Techno Things
Nissan has added a distinct value added detail in their Integrated Control (I-CON) system drive mode selector. This feature offers three different throttle/transmission/steering response settings (more about this later). I-CON also serves as a central command center and display module, adopting different display colors and functions depending on how it is being used. In Climate mode, the display shows the interior temperature settings while the “buttons” display air flow preferences. And there’s a lot of other visually interesting attributes.

Juke Dynamics
It's important to note the 1.6 liter 4-cylinder powerplant gets more power than a 25 liter with better fuel economy. The mpg of the Juke is an adequate 27 city/32 hwy. Here's a little animated video to visually detail the features.

Click PLAY to watch video

The Jukes Advanced Torque Vectoring AWD system can split torque tup to 50:50 front and rear and side to side for better handling. Here's another animated video to illustrate how it works.

Click PLAY to watch video

Here's a summary of the engineering and mechanical attributes of the front engine, front wheel drive or AWD Juke:

• Standard 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIGÔ) Turbo, 4-cylinder
• 188 horsepower, 177 lb-ft of torque
• Standard Xtronic CVTÔ (Continuously Variable Transmission) with S-Mode
• 6-speed manual transmission (SV FWD and SL FWD models only)
• MacPherson strut front suspension
• Torsion beam rear suspension (FWD)
• Multi-link rear suspension (AWD models only)
• Front and rear stabilizer bars
• Vehicle-speed-sensing electric power-assisted steering
• Power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
• Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)
• 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with P215/55R17 all-season tires

Driving and Handling
Get ready for an exhilarating experience. The Juke drives just like it looks. It's response is sporty and responsive. Drove both the FWD with stick and the CVT with AWD and prefer the latter by a looooong way. There are three driving set-ups to select from, but suggest the sport setting to take advantage of the torque vectoring which shifts power to the front and/or back wheels on either side. And it’s a lot more fun.

Bottom Line
Herein is a quandary. Nissan's product planners have listed 8, yes that's eight, ocho, huit, acht, otte, otto …. eight different models, which may confusing. No worries, the sales person in the Nissan store will steer you to the one that's best for you and your budget.The prices range from $18,960 to a top price of $24,550. The price variations are based on type of transmission and trim levels.

I still think it's an odd name, but the Juke is genuine contender in the small crossover category.