Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper CVT Review
by Eric Tipan
If you feel a music history lesson coming on, you’re right. The title comes from TLC’s ’94 album, which was the bestselling ever from a US girl group. That feels very apropos to this subcompact crossover as it features qualities that can only be quantified by those three words.
Near “Matchbox-y” in appearance, the Juke 1.6 Upper CVT may have been a huge unknown when it was launched in 2015, but with the number of units now plying the roads of Metro Manila and beyond, it’s plain obvious that Filipinos have taken to its various inimitable features.
What’s crazy, sexy and cool about it? Read on to find out.
Listen, there’s nothing out there right now that even comes close to the Juke in terms of styling. It’s unique and it stands out, first because of these curvy wheel arches (front and rear) inspired by the Coca-Cola bottle circa 1960s and the oddly-shaped glasshouse that looks like a funky trapezoid when viewed from the side. Rear door handles are neatly disguised in the window frame, which helps give the Juke a coupe look.
Part of the Juke’s juicy exterior package is the stacked lighting that catches your attention with the bulging and hook-shaped turn indicators on top of the front fenders. As cutting-edge as the design seems, it also comes with a throwback with those classic-looking headlamps on the outer edges of the extended grille.
What you’ve been hearing about the cabin size is the honest-to-goodness truth – it is indeed compact. Three normal-sized adults would be a snug fit in the second row, and there isn’t much headroom either.
Only two cup holders take the space of what is usually the area for the center console. There’s a no-slip-grip cubbyhole right under the climate control system, but it’s only big enough to fit devices that still come with a multi-tap keypad e.g. Nokia 3310.
My solution, bring the girlfriend, dump your loser friends, and put down the rear seats that split 60/40 for more cargo space. Just bring them pasalubong when you get back and all will be forgiven.
It comes as no surprise that the shape of the gauges and interior appointments is as unconventional as the Juke’s exterior. The center stack is framed in glossy plastic that houses the infotainment system and the Integrated Control System (I-CON).
Connecting your mobile device via Bluetooth is easy, as well as managing the infotainment system, but to use the I-CON, the driver must select a function specified by the two buttons just on top of the small monitor at the bottom of the center stack.
Driving and PERFORMANCE
The I-CON manages the drive modes and climate control. While the latter is self-explanatory, the drive modes are worth mentioning. I would stay on Sport mode as much as possible because it’s flat-out fun. But after averaging some nine kilometers per liter on Normal for a couple of days, my average went down to 8.1 kilometers per liter after half a day on Sport.
It’s got a hyper 1.6-liter with continuously variable transmission (CVT) that allows the Juke to shimmy around in a wonderfully controlled but speedy fashion, and it simply struggles to do that in Eco mode.
Normal comes up as a good compromise between performance and economy, but Sport mode is what truly epitomizes the personality of the Juke.
I would admit to being skeptical about the chances of the Juke when it was first launched. It seemed to me like a model you’d either only love or hate – no in-betweens. Never been more glad to be proven wrong. Nissan has been long overdue for a hit and while it’s not yet at the level of the ubiquitous B13 Sentra (well not yet at least) it’s growing in number and that shows where we’re leaning towards with regards this model. It’s clearly love for the crazy, sexy, cool Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper CVT.