The premise of the He said, she said chronicle is simple: we lend a press vehicle to a couple to test drive extensively for two weeks and give the two participants one simple instruction: to take note of all of their impressions, both good and bad.
Each of the test drivers has to keep their opinions to themselves so as not to influence the other. Easier said than done, right?
This month, Nancy Moore and Marc DesRosiers test drove the Nissan Juke SL with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine and 188 horsepower, a CVT gearbox and all-wheel drive. The sticker price of $29,678 includes the leather and navigation packages, the sunroof, remote starter, heated seats, wheel-mounted audio controls, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, back-up camera, automatic climate control and fog lights (but it does not include the $1595 transport cost or taxes). That’s what I call fully equipped! Note that the base trim starts at $19,998.
Here’s what they had to say:
Name: Marc DesRosiers
Occupation: Chief studio stagehand
Drives: 2012 Kia Rio
Marc DesRosiers wasn’t crazy about the front end. “With those headlights that spill over onto the top, it looks like a weird bug – like a cross between a praying mantis and a frog!” However, he liked the overall shape. “That look that plunges toward the back, it’s different. I must admit that I kind of like it.”
Mark spent the first few kilometres trying to figure out what was going on with the transmission, as it was his first time using a CVT. “It feels like driving a snowmobile. The engine races but not the transmission and there’s this noise coming from the engine – very strange.” But he managed to get used to it. “I quickly got to like the Manual mode. That’s definitely something I could get used to having in my car.”
He was also happy about the ride. “There’s a turbo in there? I didn’t even notice! It’s very fast though. It’s sporty and a lot of fun to drive, even if it is a little like a see-saw.” He also liked being able to select his own driving mode – Normal, Eco or Sport. “But really, in Eco mode, it doesn’t really move. I don’t know who would be able to tolerate that, except at cruising speed on the highway.”
All-wheel drive was another first for Marc. “I had never driven an AWD vehicle, but I saw a clear difference, especially on the snow. The Juke had a lot of traction.”
He didn’t find the passenger compartment particularly hi-tech, despite the I-CON device that magically transforms the controls, depending on whether you want to adjust the air conditioning or select a drive mode. “It was easy to toggle back and forth, but I found some of the information completely useless, like the G-force measurements. This might be relevant in a Ferrari, but not in a Juke.”
Hard to connect your phone to the Bluetooth
Our test driver had to try several times before successfully connecting his smart phone to the vehicle’s Bluetooth. He also concluded that the voice commands need work. On the other hand, he loved the rear back-up camera. “It makes up for the limited rear visibility and you can rely on it completely to keep you from running over a cat or a toddler!”
As for the interior finish, “It makes a great first impression with the red stitching on the black leather seats. However, the flashy red central console looks plasticky. What’s more, the leatherette is starting to bag, and it’s only been driven 3,000 km.” Finally, he hated having to open the door to reach the driver’s seat controls.
At the end of the day, inadequate cargo capacity is the reason you’ll never find Marc in a Nissan Juke. “I’m a drummer, and while my drums fit in the trunk of my new little Kia Rio, the Juke’s trunk isn’t high enough for them. It isn’t at all practical. In any case, I think the Juke is a girl’s car!”
So, what did she have to say about it?
Name: Nancy Moore
Occupation: Account manager
Drives: 2004 Saab 9.3
Marc thinks that the Nissan Juke is for girls, and Nancy Moore seconds the motion. “I adored this vehicle’s style and found it feminine. But my eighteen- and twenty-year-old sons didn’t like to look.”
Nancy was also won over by the passenger compartment and the interior space. “I had more room in the Juke than in my convertible Saab, and my boys found the bench comfortable. Personally, I found the driving position uncomfortable. There was this bump in the seatback that I couldn’t do anything about. If it wasn’t for that, it would have been perfect.”
Like Marc, Nancy found the rear back-up camera very practical. “I really love it, it tells you on the screen exactly where to stop and I used it often in parking lots.”
Easy to connect your phone to the Bluetooth
Unlike Marc, Nancy didn’t manage to tame the I-CON system, which changes functions depending on your needs. “It’s confusing. I opted to ignore it or to wait for it to change back to Normal mode by itself.” She also admitted that she wasn’t able to figure out how to switch from FM to AM. And the satellite radio? “What? There’s satellite radio?” On the other hand, Nancy was able to connect her cell phone to the Bluetooth system and found using its voice commands easy.
She only had good things to say about the ride. “The accelerator is smooth and when you press on it, it takes off – and it even sounds like a race car! The braking is also very smooth. Really, it’s a relaxed ride.”
Moreover, “the AWD system impressed me. It brought us up a snow-covered hill effortlessly. Overall, I found the Juke solid, and I quickly felt comfortable driving it, even in turns.”
Was the limited cargo space an issue for her? “I have to admit that I couldn’t figure out how to open the hatch, so I put my packages on the rear bench. And it wasn’t till later that I realized that the Juke had four doors! The rear door handles are so well hidden in the body that, at first, I thought it was a two-door.”
Nancy says that she had a really hard time giving back the keys to the Juke once the test drive was over. So, is that to say that the Juke may be for her? “No. I find that it has a lot more qualities than faults, I really liked the ride and I was proud to drive it. But I just love convertibles. If you want to sell me a Juke, make me one in a convertible.”
A crazy idea? It’s not as farfetched as you may think. Nissan made its Murano into a convertible last year and offers this configuration in the United States.