Monday, December 27, 2010
First Test: 2011 Nissan Juke SV
The Nissan Juke is a mini-crossover being released by the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan during 2010. The production version made its debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show in March, and was introduced to North America at the 2010 New York International Auto Show.
On 11 February 2009 Nissan announced that the model would go into production at the NMUK plant in Washington, UK, during 2010 following its appearance as the Nissan Qazana concept car at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. The Sunderland plant manufactures for the European market, while Nissan's facility in Oppama, Japan, produces the vehicle for all other countries and is the sole supplier of the all-wheel drive variant.
In Japan, where the car was launched on 9 June 2010, orders totalled 10,943 units in its first month, surpassing Nissan's monthly target of 1,300 by a margin it never predicted. By 5 October 2010, Japanese sales had increased to 20,000 while European and US figures also exceeded expectations with orders for 30,000 and 17,500 cars taken for the respective markets.The Juke was designed at Nissan Design Europe in London and refined at Nissan's Design Centre in Japan. It is based on the Nissan B platform.The car's profile is dominated by the prominent wheel arches and the body's high waistline, which combine to give an impression of strength and which contrast with the slim side windows. Echoing a style first seen on the Mixim, Nissan's high performance electric coupé concept shown at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show, the glasshouse resembles a crash helmet visor. A coupé-like appearance is achieved by the rear door handles being located near the C-pillars, within the window frame. The sport motif continues inside with the red- or grey-painted center console bearing similarity to a motorcycle fuel tank.
The front end features a stacked array of lights. Running lamps and indicators are mounted atop the front wings, their lenses visible from inside the cabin as an aid to manoeuvrings. Below them, under the lower edges of an expansive, curved grille, the main headlamps are intended to be reminiscent of those fitted to rally cars during the 1960s and 1970s. Where fitted, fog lamps are situated on a third level within the sump guard at the bottom.Common to all but base models is Nissan's Integrated Control System, dubbed I-CON: a command module that sits in the lower dashboard, which manages both the climate control and the vehicle's drive mode (Normal, Sport or Eco). Its display and nomenclature change according to the function selected.
Reviews by the motoring press have been generally positive. While most liked the Juke's unusual styling, several noted that it represented a brave design choice by Nissan that could divide the opinions of car buyers. Test drives have provided conflicting reports about the car's ride and handling: the body lean and steering response have each been singled out for praise and criticism in equal measure. However, the overall response indicated that the Juke is expected to be a success.Nissan ambitiously expects to sell 20,000 Jukes in its first full year of production, which will be 2011. And I can see that happening. A plague of Jukes is about to descend on the landscape, devouring young mums and their offspring and raising eyebrows wherever they go. Expect an unfamiliar looking car to start becoming very familiar indeed.