The Nissan Juke gets more sophisticated in this Hybrid form. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Nissan may have been one of the pioneers in EV motoring but the brand has been slow to react to customer demand for Hybrids. It still can't sell you one you can plug in, but other petrol/electric bases now seem well covered. Mild hybrid tech was launched with the current Qashqai, which along with the larger X-Trail SUV also offers the company's clever e-Power drivetrain in which all the 1.5-litre petrol engine does is to supply energy for the electrical system. For an electrification option with the brand's smaller Juke crossover, we'd hoped to see that innovative powerplant reappear again. Instead, Nissan has opted for something a tad more conventional, updating the four cylinder 1.6-litre full-Hybrid petrol engine already familiar from several Renault models. It's a pricier alternative to the continuing old-tech three cylinder 1.0-litre DIG-T petrol engine most choose in the Juke, but there's the appealing combination of more power and better efficiency. Should Juke folk be tempted? Let's see.
The numbers here certainly deserve a second glance: 20% better fuel economy, 25% more power and all of it controlled by three Hybrid drive modes and six gears, four for the engine and two for the EV system. Nissan says that the whole confection is its own but actually, the Juke Hybrid drivetrain is basically the same one Renault uses in the Clio, the Captur and the Arkana. Albeit with changes made to the 1.6-litre petrol engine (which here develops 93bhp) and to the set-up's electric motor (here putting out 48bhp and working with a 20bhp starter generator). Total system output is 141bhp. As with Renault, that e-motor is mounted within a four-speed 'multi-modal' auto gearbox which manages both power sources. What we haven't seen before on any Renault is this Nissan's 'e-Pedal' function, which increases regenerative braking - to the point where the car can slow right down to 5mph when you come off the throttle. It also improves water cooling for the compact 1.2kWh battery, which always powers the car from start-off and can take you up to 34mph without troubling fossil fuel. Once you crest the EV speed barrier, the powertrain switches into 'series hybrid' mode, where the engine charges the battery - great for urban driving. And at high speeds and under heavy acceleration, the whole set-up reverts to 'parallel mode' in which both the e-motor and the engine drive the wheels. Nissan has had to tweak the springs and dampers to accommodate the Hybrid system's extra 100kgs of weight and has done so with settings it hopes will be firm enough to assure this Juke's urban status as 'the roundabout superstar' - their words, not ours. In other words, don't expect a cosseting ride over the speed humps. Get out on the open road and the 62mph sprint is dispatched in 10.1s, 1.7s quicker than the conventional 1.0-litre DIG-T model.
If you know your Jukes, there's quite a lot to set this Hybrid version apart. Not only Hybrid badges on the front wings and boot lid but also gloss black trimming and smarter mesh for the partially blanked-off front grille, which has an active radiator shutter. There are also extra aerodynamic components to smooth airflow around front wheels, while if you scrabbled underneath, you'd also find a rear axle cover that reduces turbulence beneath the car. As with the conventional Juke model, Nissan has in recent times redesigned the rear spoiler, revised the bumpers and added different wheel options. The interior is a little different in this Hybrid model too, with a revised instrument dial set-up that shows the amount of power being supplied. The binnacle's 7-inch digital screen also shows energy flow as you drive. The Juke unfortunately hasn't adopted the more sophisticated infotainment screen from Nissan's larger Qashqai and Ariya models, so the 8-inch centre display this second generation version's always had continues and is beginning to show its age. Still, it includes most of what you'd need, with navigation and 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. An upgraded BOSE audio system can also be added. As in the ordinary Juke, space in the rear seat is fairly cramped by class standards but it'll be fine for a couple of kids. Bear in mind that with this Hybrid model, having to package the battery beneath the cargo area floor significantly reduces boot space - from 422-litres with the standard 1.0-litre model to 354-litres with this Hybrid.
Nissan doesn't offer the two base Juke trim levels ('Visia' and 'Acenta') with the Hybrid powertrain, which partly explains why the Juke Hybrid looks a tad pricey, the starting figure for base 'N-Connecta' trim up at around £27,500. An equivalent 1.0-litre auto model would save you around £1,800: an equivalent 1.0-litre manual version would save you around £3,200. The 1.0-litre Juke range starts at around £21,000. If you want a plusher version of this Hybrid model, there are 'Tekna' and 'Tekna+' derivatives on offer, with pricing up to around £30,500. At least you get plenty of kit for the prices being asked. Even 'N-Connecta' trim gets you 19-inch alloy wheels, all-round parking sensors, keyless entry, an 'Intelligent Around View Monitor' and NissanConnect' navigation with TomTom traffic info. There's also power-folding mirrors, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, heated front seats, a heated windscreen and a clever luggage board system for the boot. The Hybrid also comes with the brand's 'ProPILOT Assist Pack' which gives you 'Intelligent Driver Alertness' (to detect driver drowsiness), 'Blind Spot Intervention', 'Rear Cross Traffic Alert', 'Intelligent Cruise Control', a 'Moving Object Detection' system to help with safer low speed manoeuvring, 'Lane Keep Assist' and a 'Traffic Jam Pilot' system that effectively drives the car for you in traffic queues.
Let's get to the figures: this Juke Hybrid manages combined cycle fuel consumption of up to 57.6mpg (56.5mpg further up the range) and CO2 emissions from 115g/km. That compares with 40.9mpg and 133g/km for an equivalently-specified 1.0-litre DIG-T 114 model. So the 20% fuel economy improvement claim more than stacks up. We've not come across anyone though who has achieved those figures in a Juke Hybrid: in reality, expect mpg figures in the late '40s to be more typical. Which might not completely meet your expectations. To give you some class perspective, a rival Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid can return around 60mpg. Even to achieve the real world figure we've just given for this Nissan, you'll need to make full use of this car's clever one-pedal brake regen technology. This is something that few other self charging Hybrid's have and as soon as you turn on the 'e-Pedal' system and lift off the accelerator, you'll feel the car clawing back energy for the battery. There's an energy monitor on the centre screen to show you that happening in real time. As with the conventional model, service intervals will come round every 12 months or 12,500 miles, depending on which comes soonest. As part of any Nissan dealer visit with your car, you'll be provided with a free courtesy vehicle and a video health check for your Juke that you can watch on your 'phone or computer. Nissan also provides a three year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard and that can be lengthened to four years but with the same mileage cap. This recognises that most drivers of small SUVs tend to cover lower distances, but aims to give added peace of mind for those looking to keep their car for longer. And in case of any problems, there's breakdown assistance with roadside help included with the car's protection package. Insurance is group 14E-15E.
Nissan wants us to believe that this Juke Hybrid gives you the advantages of EV motoring without the downsides. It doesn't quite work out like that, which is frustrating because using the e-Power drivetrain from the larger Qashqai would have bought that grand objective a little closer to real world reality. The slightly less sophisticated and more conventional 1.6-litre Hybrid powerplant that features here can't deliver 'e-Power'-style efficiency, but it does have some extra features that other Hybrids lack. Notably the clever 'e-Pedal' brake regeneration system. This Juke's better to drive than most of its rivals too. We wish the price premium over the ordinary 1.0-litre model wasn't quite so great, but if you can stretch to it and you want a stepping stone in this class to full-EV motoring, then this could be it.
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