Wurlitzer or Seeburg? Nissan's Juke Plays for Pint-Size SUV Market
With a nod to the Happy Day's infamous Seeburg, Nissan's Juke is part malt-shop wonder topped by a dollop of 50's lizard thriller Godzilla. Under its front lid resides a 1.6-liter direct-injection turbocharged I-4. With 188 hp, it's intended to rev toward the top of mini crossover's play list. Other choices: the Suzuki (SX4), Subaru (Impreza) and perhaps the Mini (Countryman).
Like a jukebox, this one's a light show. The front end's got two large round lamps underneath two upper tier eyebrows. There's more jet-age Seeburg than big-band Wurlitzer in this mini Rouge warrior. Nissan's brand managers believe its standout appearance will make you look; then insert your hard-earned change.
This cute UTE, rides atop Renault-Nissan's ubiquitous X85 platform (Cube, Versa). Torque vectoring all-wheel-drive is optional. That and the premium-fueled engine should spiritedly spin four rubber-wrapped side-mounted turntables.
My brief as a 45-rpm pop-song fling revealed that the Juke's mill thrashes. It churns a continuously variable transmission (standard with AWD), which zaps performance. Road manners: select normal, sport and eco. While this mechanical setup won't top the autocross chart, it climbs curbs without snagging the undercarriage.
Light gray interior plastics were cheerful-not the sallow pieces seen inside other Nissan compacts. And the center tunnel is colorfully topped like a motorcycle's gas tank. Due to the Juke's cozy contours interior space is tight. Cargo room is stubby. Nissan claims an EPA 27 mpg city/ 32 highway rating. That's for the front-drive version that starts at $20,000.