First drive of Nissan Juke Hybrid Tekna+ - full hybrid power added to smart Juke crossover
Nissan has finally taken the jump and added full hybrid power to its smart suited Juke crossover – although there is a catch.
Available only on middle trim grades and above, it commands £1,500 over regular versions but promises superior efficiency. Is it one to put on your shortlist?
LET’S TALK NUMBERS
In many of the areas that really matter to buyers of small SUVs, the Juke easily holds its own. Our first introduction to the UK-built car was largely positive and executed tasks equal to – or in some cases, better than – its rivals.
However, we couldn’t help but feel owners would end up feeling a little disappointed in the economy stakes. So – to much fanfare – Nissan has added a full hybrid powertrain. It relies on a ‘multi-modal’ automatic gearbox, a starter-generator and all-important regenerative braking that – besides giving you the option of one-pedal driving – sends energy to the onboard water-cooled battery.
Starting up on 100% electric power every time you move off, it is claimed that as much as 80% of any urban journey can be negotiated without the need for the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine. All told, fuel bills are slashed by as much as 20% and given the wonders of modern-day engineering, there is a 25% boost in power over the pure-petrol Juke.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Every manufacturer has their own way of approaching powertrain development – and Nissan is no different in this respect, choosing what is already on the shelf and introducing a few extra components from the parts bin. So, whilst the starter-generator and transmission are the same as that found in the Renault Captur E-Tech hybrid, the Juke’s engine and e-motor are unique to it.
They have also been tuned differently to give a combined output of 141bhp that’s spilt between the engine (93bhp) and an electric motor (48bhp) that is positioned inside an automatic gearbox that manages both.
Initially, the battery will happily carry you along from a standing start but to get close to the 0-62mph time of 10 seconds the engine is called for and when it bursts into life be prepared for the relative calm that existed inside to be shattered by a rather tiresome drone.
Dynamically, the Juke’s chassis architecture has been beefed up, yet it remains a car best enjoyed with your sensible head on your shoulders.
It does not wallow through bends and body control is pleasingly positive, although the ride tends to squirm and fidget quite a lot of the time – a fact perhaps not helped by sitting on grippier rubber with much shallower sidewalls.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
Visually, the Juke Hybrid has broadly the same styling as non-electrified models – but there are some important changes, even if these are not immediately apparent at first glance.
For instance, nestling behind the mesh grille is an active shutter that can open and close independently to aid cooling and reduce drag. Subtle alterations to improve the car’s aerodynamic efficiency have led to a reprofiled front bumper and roof-mounted wing and a partially covered rear axle.
The easiest way to distinguish the Juke Hybrid is by the badging. Other than that, there are two wheel sizes – 17-inches for mid-level ‘N-Connecta’ or 19-inch rims for ‘Tekna’ and range-topping ‘Tekna+’ – and one of ten body colours as well as the option of 12, two-tone body and roof colour options. On top of LED headlights and driving lamps and the excellent ‘ProPilot Assist’ safety pack that bundles together eight of the very latest driver aids, our test car added a satin silver ‘finisher’ to the front bumper’s lower apron, striking ‘Magnetic Blue’ metallic paint, and a ‘Pearl Black’ finished roof.
A TWEAKED INTERIOR
It is not only the outside that has come in for change because the cabin has been reworked, too. The most significant alteration concerns the instrument binnacles: the left-hand dial is a power gauge that moves between ‘charge’ as energy is sent to the battery, ‘Eco’ for when the car is in electric mode and ‘Power’ which indicates the engine and battery are being used in tandem. Nestled in the centre is a 7-inch ‘Combimeter’ screen that can be toggled to show, amongst other things, the flow of energy.
Also different is the ‘e-pedal’ switch on the lower console and the EV mode button directly beneath the 8-inch colour touchscreen. Speaking of which, the graphics on the main display are effective but a tad basic and that is a shame considering the rest of the car’s technology is first-rate.
This includes easy smartphone integration, Nissan’s ‘Connect Services’ with voice recognition, a premium Bose stereo that includes ‘UltraNearfield’ speakers in the front seat headrests, automatic climate control, heated front leather seats and ambient lighting.
WHAT ABOUT PRACTICALITY?
The Juke – whether in petrol or petrol-electric guise – does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to interior packaging. There are no complaints from either the driver or front-seat passenger and three small children will not struggle to get along in what is a pretty compact rear bench.
Three adults sitting across the middle row is an altogether different matter, however, with that sloping roofline meaning the general sensation for them is going to be dark and cramped. In terms of cabin storage, both the front and rear door bins are nice and large and can easily swallow a 500ml drinks bottle, but the absence of a drop-down centre armrest with the usual cup holders is a pity.
Forging a 1.6-litre petrol engine, electric motor and starter-generator, the ‘E-Tech’ system on the Juke is punchy and hushed. Developed by the Renault Nissan Alliance, it promises 10mpg more on the combined cycle and because of the regenerative braking function, owners get EV driving for brief bursts at up to 34mph – but accelerator inputs must be gentle.
Full hybrid models of the eye-catching Juke Mk2 get a series of cosmetic updates that distinguish it from the rest of the range, including a reprofiled rear spoiler, a gloss black plastic strip and new mesh design for the grille behind which an active radiator grille shutter sits. Subtle hybrid badges on the front wings and boot lid also mark out this Juke as being part electrified.
Although the 1.2kWh battery is pretty compact, total boot space in hybrid versions is less compared to their petrol equivalents, dropping from 422-litres to 354-litres. A moveable floor is one saving grace as you do not have to contend with a load lip and the opening is much wider than its predecessor. Room in the second row is neat and will be keenly felt by taller adults.
Like the outside, Nissan’s designers have touched up the cabin of the Juke Hybrid as well. Contrast grey suede for the dash, door cards and part black leather upholstered chairs create a premium look, with this enhanced in top-spec ‘Tekna+’ by ambient lighting. The most noticeable difference for hybrid cars is the instrument binnacle that provides real-time energy consumption.
- Stand-out looks
- Efficient powertrain
- Endless equipment list
- Juke Hybrid is pricey
- Infotainment is dating
- Not the roomiest inside
Price: £30,320 (as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4cyl petrol hybrid
Power/torque: 141bhp/151lb ft
Transmission: Multi-model automatic, front-wheel-drive
0-62mph: 10.1 seconds
Top speed: 103mph