Is beauty only skin deep? Is the Juke an utter beast, or is it more an automotive Quasimodo?
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or something along those lines. We’ve all been told that, especially in grade school. Get to know the person and don’t judge. It has been said, and the person either listens or not.
The automotive industry is a bit more tolerant of the high-school bully mentality. It’s a cold, harsh reality. The beautiful cars typically go for a premium in the marketplace. The ugly duckling is often relegated to passable status.
But now it’s time to take a stand, I’m climbing to the top of the hill and proclaiming how awesome the 2013 Nissan Juke is.
Sure, it got slapped in the face a few times with an ugly stick and somehow had its eyes re-arranged. But in its ugliness comes character and appeal.
It’s a bit of an acquired taste. Most people that saw the Juke described it as horrendous, hideous, and most ridiculous car I’ve ever seen. Some people went as far as to refuse to sit in the car.
Quite the pushback. Something not even the Chevrolet Spark experienced.
This was on a whole new level.
Once you coerce people to get inside the vehicle it doesn’t get much better. To say it’s cramped would be tantamount to the understatement of the century. The overall dimensions of the vehicle are weird as well. It has the shape of a crossover but the footprint of a car.
When put side-by-side with a Mazda Protégé 5 station wagon, the station wagon is actually longer from bumper to bumper.
Your perception will change once you get behind the wheel of the Juke. Everything from the seating position to gear shifter is perfectly placed. Passengers are an after thought.
It gets even better when you look at the centre console and ignore the standard head unit. There are two buttons: Climate and D-Mode. Pressing either button changes the display and the buttons that surround it. It’s akin to programmable OLED display technology with micro-screens embedded into the buttons themselves.
ECO, Normal and Sport are the D-Mode options, and I’d recommend keeping in Sport if you’d like to go anywhere. Once you hit cruising speed, kick it back into ECO.
The best feature of the Sport button is it removes the CVT-esque feel from the transmission and simulates gearshifts. Thank you.
I’ve never been a person to harp on the concept of regular vs. premium gasoline when driving a car. The Juke requires premium due to the turbocharged 1.6L, 4-cylinder engine but with manufacturers such as Volvo and Ford offering boosted engines on regular gasoline, I felt that Nissan is a bit behind the times with their Juke configuration. Sure it’s a hoot to drive in sport mode but the vehicle in eco-mode is almost unbearable and absolutely ruins the vehicle.
In the time that I spent with the Juke, I did notice a slight hiccup. When the engine was cold, the idle would be slightly rough while in drive. Namely sitting at traffic lights. I experienced this a few times before the coolant level hit the half way mark. It smoothed out shortly after. I’d recommend letting the car warm up before driving it in colder weather, much like you would a diesel.
Sometime last year I heard about the Frankenstein Juke R offering, a commission where the Nissan GT-R drivetrain is paired with the Nissan Juke. It’s an expensive vehicle that couldn’t really be justified. I scratched my head wondering who would remotely even consider such a thing.
After driving the Juke, I finally understood. It isn’t about having the fastest, most stylish or luxurious car out there. It’s about putting a smile on your face. And that Juke R would.
Just like the Juke did, despite the $31,373 as-tested price. Sure it may be ugly but I enjoyed it. Just don’t let someone try to dissuade you from experiencing it yourself.
2013 Nissan Juke SL Gallery