2012 Nissan Juke - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

2012 Nissan Juke

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In order to get the scientific measurement for a certain level of Funk, you need a Funkometer.  When said Funkometer is hooked up to the 2012 Nissan Juke… you'll get one reading "Funky".  But can you dig it?

The looks of this particular bug-eyed cross over may not be you cup of funky tea, as I was initially turned off by the design. But over time, the car started to grow on me.  As I saw more of them on the road, I needed to experience the funky little crossover for myself.

And little it is.  The Juke is based on the subcompact Nissan Versa platform, only the Juke is about half a foot shorter and much better looking.  Yes, it has the unmistakable front end with giant headlights and turn signals on the top of the fenders, but there's something about the flares, sporty pillars and wide back end I find appealing.  If that's not enough and you want to add some pizzazz to really set your ride apart, Nissan offers a number of custom graphic options including hot pink rally stripes if that's what you need.

Despite the car being small, the interior is big on style and for the most part quality. Usually in a car with a starting price around 19 grand you're going to get a lot of cheap plastic and other b-stock parts.  Not too many of them here. But what really makes the interior shine is the center plastic piece which is designed to look like a sport bike gas tank. There are also matching bits on the doors.   They can be painted in either silver or red and you can get stitching on the leather seats to match.  It looks great, but I really miss having an arm rest for my right arm.   The only downsides to the interior are the headliner which reminds me of a stiff cardboard egg carton, and the map lights seem to have been slapped on as an afterthought. This is a shame, because the rest of the interior has a great look and feel to it.

The layout is very nice with easy to read gauges, steering wheel mounted controls and your center stack including Nav, radio, HVAC and a fun little gadget Nissan calls I-Con. 

With a quick turn of a dial you can choose from three settings: "sport", "eco" and "normal".  Depending on how you want to drive or the type of gas mileage you want to get, you can shift on the fly.  Each setting has its own transmission mapping, steering and engine response.  There is also a gauge that displays different info for each setting.  In the "eco" mode you can keep a close on your mpg's which the EPA says should be around 30 depending on the transmission you choose….the 6 speed manual or the CVT.

The "Sport" mode is a lot of fun, and makes for a pretty zippy, yet bumpy drive.  Once the button is pressed, a little turbo gauge comes up and spins along with that little turbine pushing that 1.6 liter to the 6500 redline.  More fun awaits with another flick of the knob, the "g" meter.  Find your favorite stretch of twisty road and see if you can pull a 4 g inverted dive... if you have the need for speed.  All 188 ponies will get you from 0 to 60 in just a tick over seven seconds, and the torque vectoring All-Wheel Drive will keep you planted to the road.  It may not be "fast" by sports car standards but it's still a very fun drive.

Here's an important thing to keep in mind, you'll more than likely only be able to share the fun with one other person as there is not a lot of room inside.  Despite being four doors with a hatch, there is almost no room for back seat passengers. I had my two daughters in the back in their boosters.  Both driver and passenger seats had to be moved almost all the way forward to keep them from having me yell "quit kicking the back of the seat".  It also made for an uncomfortable driving position.  With no kids and the rear seats folded down, you do have quite a bit of space to load up.

But the Juke isn't designed for dads like me.  According to Nissan, the Juke is looking for a very specific person to get behind the wheel.  One they call "Urban Experience Seekers."  Those would be 18-34 year-old men making $45 grand a year.

Even though I may be out of the demo by a few years, I still enjoyed the car.  It's a blast to buzz around in.  It's got enough gusto to get in and around slower cars, most of the bells and whistles you need including a thumping Rockford Fosgate audio system, and an unmistakable look. 

If you can live with a few shortcomings, and are seeking an "urban experience", you may dig the Juke.

You can get funky here.

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