2/10/2011 | 2 MINUTE READ

The Nissan Juke Sport Meets Crossover

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The automaker's newest vehicle is designed to combine the agility of a sports car with the masculinity of an SUV—"sports cross."


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Nissan plans to introduce nine new vehicles over the next two years. The first of these releases is the Juke, a four-door, hatchback small crossover utility vehicle (CUV) that combines the flash of a sports car and the power of an SUV all packaged on its B-platform, which is also the basis for the Cube and the Versa.

The targeted consumer is the urban "eco-boomer," someone who is based in a city yet who likes to have an active lifestyle. The success of the design team can be determined by the fact that over 15,000 Jukes were sold in its first month in Japan and more than 10,000 pre-orders were taken in Europe upon its announcement.

Alfonso Albaisa, vice president of Design, Nissan North America, says Juke's exterior design is mechanical, yet organic. "If you look at the body side for example, the movement of shape and form is very organic—almost lifelike," he says. "This fluid movement is complimented by very pronounced and robust wheel forms that not only provide a mechanical accent but also emphasize the wheel-oriented DNA of Juke." The vehicle comes equipped with standard 17-in. alloy wheels, which are pushed all the way out to its sides.

The vehicle's unique front is characterized by headlights integrated into the front fender and "alligator-eye" turn signals. Additional features include body-colored outside mirrors and front door handles and "hidden" rear door handles. "Juke draws inspiration from rally driving in the front and builds on our own great sports family: the GTR's straight roof section and 370 Z's boomerang tail lamps," says Albaisa.

Juke's interior features cockpit-like seating with bolstered front seats, giving the driver a high eye point for increased visibility. Nissan says its metallic, high-gloss center console was inspired by a motorcycle fuel tank.

Juke is powered by a 1.6-liter direct injection (DI) turbo, 4-cylinder engine, which combines power (188 hp, 177 lb-ft of torque) with fuel efficiency (27 mpg city, 32 highway) in standard drive modes. As Nissan puts it, the engine provides 2.5-liter performance with 1.6-liter fuel economy. It's the first time Nissan has used the engine in a North American application.

Two transmissions are offered: Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmis-sion (CVT) and a six-speed manual. Juke is the first vehicle to feature Nissan's Integrated Control (I-CON) system, which allows drivers to toggle between three different driving modes: normal, sport and eco. These driving modes are activated at the push of a button on the front console, adjusting vehicle throttle, transmission and steering upon activation.

For sportier driving, an optional advanced torque vectoring all-wheel drive system splits torque 50-50 between front and rear wheels, as well as splitting torque from side-to-side across the rear axle. The system helps to reduce understeer and enhance the vehicle's cornering feel.