THE Juke was regarded by some as ‘a bit quirky looking' when it first appeared on our roads some nine years ago but it clearly grew on motorists with its rather bulbous looks and became one of Nissan's best selling cars with over 300,000 bought here in the ensuing years.
Now Nissan has given the small crossover not so much a make-over but a major facelift inside and underneath with a more subtle or rather grown-up look on the outside and bags of new high tech gear inside.
Crucially too this latest Juke, now on sale from a competitive £17,395, has been completely designed, developed and even built within the UK to give it a truly home grown DNA and so specifically aimed to ride and drive much better on our uncompromising British roads.
Slightly bigger in length and with a longer wheelbase than its predecessor (it sits on the same platform as its French cousin the Renault Captur) it now has a more coupe like roofline but remarkably with more interior space, noticeable so for rear seat passengers' leg room.
Discreet styling remains the order of the day so that it still stands out from its competitors, including its slightly bigger sister the Qashqai, with its smarter, slim line headlights at the front while at the back the boot aperture is wider, meaning easier loading, and there's now split tailgate lights between the actual hatch and the corner of the car's bodywork giving a much nicer flow to the car's body lines.
Thankfully too the previous curvaceous wheelarches are now not quite so ‘loud' looking as on the old model.
Both the front and rear screens have a bigger rake to them helping to improve the driver's vision and overall this Juke's design has been sensibly tampered with by Nissan's backroom team while often with second generation models some designers deliberately set out to make major changes when there's clearly not the need.
For the driver, apart from better all round vision and that excellent high driving position, the major welcome change is a new, telescopic adjustable steering column to suit drivers of all sizes far more easily while the overall interior of the cabin is much nicer with softer feeling plastic trims and upholstery and depending on which model is chosen quite an array of on-board high tech features.
This new Juke, which is overall 23kg lighter than its predecessor,like all of the Nissan range is offered with the usual different trim levels and driven here is the better equipped Teckna which has black leather and Alcantara seats and steering wheels, easy to use eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear cross traffic alert, Pro-PILOT system and from early 2020 connected services and Wi-Fi link.
In terms of engines Nissan are keeping it simple with just one powertrain - a 999cc, three cylinder turbocharged petrol unit producing 115bhp and 200 Nm of torque through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
It's a free-revving engine and unlike rival turbo three cylinder makes this one is noticeably much quieter and more refined, even accelerating hard while the previous diesel engine has been dropped altogether.
Of the two driven in Tekna trim the automatic is by far and away the better one in my view with quick, smooth automatic up and down shift while the manual shift was not as precise and at times difficult to find the right gear and so a little cumbersome.
Oting for the auto means an extra outlay of around £1,400 above the manual. Incidentally the price of the Tekna comes in at a competitively £23,895 with the auto box as against £22,495 for the manual version.
Again it's down to individual tastes but their combined fuel consumption figures are about the same at 44.1mpg and 46.3mpg respectively and like CO emissions are similar too at 116g/km and 118g/km respectively.
Both models drive well though with slightly improved suspension using passive dampers and retuned set-up while the steering is good and has a positive feel about it while the ride (both Teknas sit on the slightly bigger 19-inch wheels and it does pay dividends) and there's now less body roll when cornering at a decent speed and overall the Juke now seems to have more poise abut when out driving on all kinds of road.
Helped by more supportive front seats than before the ride is really comfortable, perhaps a bit on the hard side compared to some rivals but that's not a bad thing and overall it's more enjoyable car to drive then its predecessor.
The new Juke may still seem a little quirky looking to some people but in essence that's one of its appeal because it does stand out from other small crossovers and with a starting price of Â£17,395 for the entry-level Visia model and throw in that excellent three-cylinder engine and no driver will be able to complain about a lack of power either.