I can’t help but think there must be bunker at Nissan Ground-Zero where they keep all the wing-nuts. I mean, for a mainstream Japanese car company, Nissan has the unprecedented habit of launching the occasional Hail-Mary bizarro ride that suggests the water cooler in said bunker is spiked with acid.
How else could you explain the asymmetrical Cube? Or the ever-evolving GT-R hypercar with its unblinking Godzilla stare? Or the froggy Juke?
This is by no means a criticism of Nissan. In fact I applaud their use of hallucinogenic drugs, sleep deprivation, the looping of Nickelback songs or whatever to get these results. The automotive landscape is richer for it.
The fact that I think the Nissan Juke looks somewhat ridiculous is neither here nor there. It exists. Kudos to Nissan. The Pontiac Aztec is off the hook.
The Juke has been with us since 2011 and distinguishes itself not only with its odd styling, but by also being a sporty compact hatchback crossover with an eager 188 hp 1.6L turbo four and available AWD. Front wheel drive models are available with a manual six-speed, but otherwise the Juke runs with an Xtronic continuously variable transmission. So, all in all, a pretty unique offering.
It’s also quite fun to drive, displaying direct steering and surprisingly good handling, although the CVT takes its toll on the overall experience.
There’s plenty of rubber-banding, mooing, and a general sense of disconnect between the throttle and forward progress.
For those who want a go-faster Froggy, look at the 215 hp Juke Nismo RS MT FWD ($28,798), the 211 hp Nismo Xtronic AWD ($28,998) or 211 hp RS Xtronic AWD ($31,998).
For 2015, the Juke sees a mild mid-cycle refresh. The distinctive snout gets new projector beam headlights, LED accents, a recontoured “V-motion” grill and more aggressive bits beneath the bumper. Out back we see revised “boomerang” taillights with LED accents and a more aggressive rear fascia. The Juke’s mirrors now house standard LED turn signal repeaters.
Playing into the Juke’s cheeky persona is the new-for-2015 “Colour Studio” personalization program wherein various bits, both inside and out, can sport a contrasting hue – Red, Orange, Black Purple, White, Matte Black, Carbon Fibre, Yellow and Blue.
My loaded SL AWD tester ($30,178) with the optional three-coat Pearl White paint ($300) wore Black Purple accents, highlighted by a big rear spoiler and accented wheel spokes.
Tres funky, no?