Filed under: Crossover
, Quick Spins
I didn't always like the Nissan Juke
. When it launched in 2010, I just couldn't get over the way it looked - it came across as super weird, and kind of hideous at first blush. But I slowly warmed up to the funky little crossover/hatchback/thing, and after spending some time behind the wheel, I really learned to love Nissan's small wonder. It's a genuine hoot to drive, offering hot hatch-like thrills in a package that doesn't look like anything else on the road. The Nismo and RS models that followed only increased my ardor for the turbocharged Juke, and now, I find myself smiling whenever I see one of these little guys bombing down the road.
Going into 2015, Nissan
hasn't really made major changes, but there are a host of smaller improvements on hand to make it a more well-rounded vehicle than ever before. And to up the funk factor for the new year, there are a slew of customization options now available to customers through the Juke Color Studio
- for better or worse.
Following my first drive of the third-generation Nissan Murano
in Napa Valley, I took the refreshed Juke for a spin to see if the 2015 model year improvements still make for a car that's good to drive and easy to use, while bursting with the same personality that slowly won me over in the first place.
- Powering the Juke is the same turbocharged, 1.6-liter inline-four as last year, with 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque on tap. I've always liked this engine - it's punchy and feels good when being worked via the 2014 model's six-speed manual transmission. There's lots of power down low, with a nice bit of boost mid-range through each gear. Altering the drive modes between Normal and Sport heighten this, and honestly, the turbo/manual setup in this front-wheel-drive Juke was kind of hilarious - a real treat.
- Sadly, Nissan will no longer offer the manual transmission on non-Nismo Juke models for 2015, so you're stuck with the continuously variable transmission. Bummer. In sport mode, the usually good Xtronic CVT tends to rev high and hold itself there - a tendency of older such transmissions that's seriously off-putting, especially for enthusiasts.
- Still, the Juke is available with a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. The FWD Juke is fun, offering decent amounts of grip with a hint of predictable understeer. But I've always liked the four-season factor of the AWD Juke. I've never driven the high-riding hatch in the snow, but I imagine with the proper tires, this thing would be excellent.
- The rest of the driving aspects haven't changed since the last time I left the Juke. The steering is nicely weighted and direct, the brakes feel a little mushy on first application but offer plenty of pedal feel after that, and the whole thing blasts down the road with a sort of fun that not many other small crossovers can match.
- What has changed about the Juke for 2015 is its styling, though I won't fault you for not being able to immediately spot the differences. Up front, the already busy schnoz has been slightly redesigned, with reshaped turn signals (the top tier of lights), and new projector-beam headlamps worked into their middle-tier housings. The side indicators have moved to the mirrors, where they have an angular shape to mimic the lamps out front and the swoopy taillamps around back. And finally, some new colors are available, including the Solar Yellow you see here, not to mention all of the odd choices on tap in the aforementioned Color Studio.
- Inside, it's more of the same - no big change here, aside from the addition of some NissanConnect tech and the inclusion of the company's excellent Around View Monitor. Cloth and leather seating surfaces are available, with glossy silver or red trim on the doors and transmission tunnel. (Side note: the red gloss on this test car matched with the yellow exterior paint created a sort of ketchup and mustard theme that I wouldn't recommend unless you're a hot dog enthusiast.)
Nissan's pricing for the 2015 Juke remains competitive, with the front-wheel-drive S starting at $20,250, not including $825 for destination. This represents an increase of $1,080 versus the 2014 model (the destination charge has increased by $15, too), but Nissan points out that the '15 Juke comes standard with a lot more kit, including a backup camera, Intelligent Key with pushbutton start, Bluetooth and more. Given its tiny size, the Juke has never felt inexpensive, but the price increase for such popular equipment seems fair to me, and with the new customization options on deck for 2015, it feels like Nissan's funky hatch is getting even more so - and judging by the model's continued strong sales, that's no bad thing.2015 Nissan Juke
originally appeared on Autoblog
on Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds
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