By on March 11, 2013

I was in a bad place about a year ago: fighting problems that resurfaced 10+ years of (secret) regret that my life at the College for Creative Studies shoulda ended differently.  But then a few silver linings showed up, motivating me to write the first installment of this series.  While I still am in (occasionally) bad places a year later, designs like the Nissan Juke keep me motivated, excited.

So, to celebrate this series’ First Anniversary: THANK YOU for letting me share my Venom. And know how much I appreciate it when you click that link:

The Nissan Juke is one of those concepts-come-to-life that did the original proud.  If the concept’s truly bizarre styling offended you, well, that’s understandable.  But remember it’s still a well sorted piece of Transportation Design kit.  The six eyes (on the hood, in the bumper, in the lower plastic valence) do offend me…in a good way.

Even though I hate the lighting pods, the multiple grille textures, and the emblem’s “U” chrome surround…I can’t help but admire it. The Juke is just so fantastically well executed.

 

But still, I could do without the oval grilles on the side.  The Juke is more logical and cohesive with the same “slats” of the grille’s center portion.  Plus, the oval grille casting looks cheaper than the vents in the center.

 

Much like the curiously placed headlights of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Juke uses what would make a fantastic Rally Car fog light for a head light.  Unlike the Roller, the headlight is made to dominate the bumper and grille.  It’s vulgar and beautiful at the same time.

If only the grille had the same texture: the strong linear elements of a “non-ovoid” grill would let you enjoy both the grille and the headlight far easier, with less distraction.

 

The swept back, lumpy and bumpy signal/marker light?  Pretty insect-like hideous, though I suspect (much like the LEAF) its shape is dictated by the wind tunnel for less wind noise around the A-pillar.  I’d prefer if this lamp assembly was flush-mounted above the grille, matching the linear tone of the center portion of the grille.  Then the Juke would look like a tall (yet right sized) Chevy Camaro. Distraction: gone!

But again, I hate yet wholly admire this element at the same time.  Argh, nothing is ever easy!

 

Present in the original concept, these round forms made production.  They work, unlike the ovals that dominate the grille.  And looky here: those be the real fog lights, too!

 

Perhaps if these were the only set of “eyes” on the front end, but since there’s another set of headlights and foglights…no. Too polarizing.

Except polarizing is often a good thing.  Especially when it comes to the Juke.

 

The windshield/cowl/wiper trim is very well executed: clean and elegantly tucked under the painted hood.  That’s the perk of a vehicle with a retro-sized windscreen, I suppose.

 

What did I say about a retro-sized windscreen?  Apparently the people who made the roof expected it to go up further: the glass’ natural end point is where the A-pillar turns into a flat roof,  instead we get a “bendy” roof.  Which is truly odd.

 

Speaking of, the bumper-to-fender crease isn’t especially logical. This is an unfortunate by-product of making a radical concept car come to life, cost effectively.  My suggestion?

Perhaps if that crease started at the trailing edge of the grille instead of some random point at the light.  The hood-to-fender has a similar problem: it should start from the top of the light assembly and end at the base of the A-pillar.

Why did Nissan make the least flowing, smallest possible fender?  Cost effectiveness, insurance repair concerns…or both. Sad.

 

If the fender was allowed more real estate on this form, the Juke would be a far prettier vehicle.  Or perhaps it’s just best in a panel-hiding black.  No matter, look at those fender haunches, front and rear!  What a quirky and fun design!

(That you must love even if you hate it.)

 

Note the lack of a black plastic triangle aimed to lengthen the greenhouse (DLO FAIL) on the Juke.  This rig is happy being in the dimensions bestowed upon it.  But while the fender was shrunken elsewhere, it creeps up the A-pillar?  I’d prefer if that fender-to-A pillar seam began at the base of the DLO…

 

The window weatherstrip smeared over the B-pillar is impossible not to fiddle with.  Good thing I didn’t have an X-ACTO knife handy.

 

Short wheelbase.  Impossibly short overhangs at each corner. Tall roof that immediately sweeps down. Oversized wheel flares.  Volvo like hatchback design. This rig is just plain cool, even if you’d never buy it. Or would you?

That “slopey” roof just does it for me.  What a fantastic design element!!!

 

I’ve enjoyed door handles blended into a vehicle’s greenhouse ever since the introduction of the GM-10 Coupes, even if they are magnets for scratches in a super visible place.  Combined with the little black plastic triangle of DLO FAIL in the C-pillar, perhaps it doesn’t work here.  I’d suggest eliminating the DLO fail and making the rear door end in a voluptuous curve instead.  There’s no need for a curvy triangle of FAIL if the door was rounded from the git-go.

While it’s always important to have a blend of hard bends and soft contours, the mix here is off.  Round off the door to match the “thrusting arch” of the wheel wells, eliminate the DLO FAIL and call it a day.

 

Can you imagine this body if the rear door ended with something as round as these fender haunches?

 

Here’s a close up of the DLO FAIL so you can imagine a rounded rear door that could eliminate this.

 

The rounded curves (and inward bending of the body) adds a bit of needed surface tension to the Juke’s very tall profile.  Note the wave in the cutline between the doors.  If that “wave” wasn’t there, this would be a boring panel.

 

Speaking of waves, the tail lights are a fantastic piece of kinetic lighting art.  Maybe the rear door’s redesigned curve should be just as radical as the lights.  Oh, and replace the dumpy square gas filler door with something as round as the back up lights, please? The natural curve of the tailgate and fender haunches demands something less static.

I wonder if it’s the same filler door as the Nissan Cube. Hmm…

 

Is this a Volvo or a Nissan?  No matter, this huge slice of non-functional red lense does something I thought I’d never say: be an important design element that looks better than if the same real estate was painted body color.

 

To my earlier point about having a blend of hard bends and soft contours, the Juke’s rear lights embody that belief.  There’s so much surface tension presented here!  And the way it naturally flows into the rear haunches?  Close to perfect for such a small vehicle.

 

Note the odd lump at the top of the roof, where it meets with the hatchback.  Considering the downward sloping roof and rather tiny rear dimensions, I suspect these “external” hinge covers are necessary.  It’s much like the bubbly roof on a Dodge Viper GTS, except the Juke didn’t make it into a noteworthy highlight.  If only it had more “oval” like qualities, like the front lower bumper valance, perhaps.

 

While I usually like clean and minimalist rear window wiper arms, the Juke demands something more garish and over-styled.  Too bad about that.

 

Tacky rear mud flaps are tacky.  Boo for the lack of integration.

 

The gray Juke was backed up against a brick wall, so its white neighbor will do.  While very Volvo-like, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Note how the lighting pods add excitement to the body, while complimenting the curves and cutlines: the hatchback cutline doesn’t look out of place…even if it sorta is. I’m even digging the oversized license plate mustache with the Nissan logo.  While the mustache has been done to the point of death elsewhere, it looks good on the Juke.

If only the front end’s lighting pods were as logical as the rear. Then again, the Nissan Juke is impossible to miss, and easy to appreciate. While it may never grace your parking space, it deserves your respect.

The Juke is a nice piece of Vellum, that made production without much Venom. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a wonderful week.

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122 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 Nissan Juke...”


  • avatar
    Vega

    Still hideous.

    Your review reminds me of an old saying from the world of classical music:

    Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.

    • 0 avatar
      chas404

      This is my MOST hated car. I just saw one in the dark with its lights lit up. It is even ugly in the dark with its insect like eyes lit up. Great review but looking at these photos makes me ill. I seriously want to know WHO designed this thing.

      • 0 avatar
        HeartlandJack

        This is a car that tries too hard to be different and ends up being so completely uncool. It screams for attention and breaks so many rules of tranditional design it goes overboard.

        Thanks for the nice article. You wasted it on a car that is too cute by half and a complete fail.

        Nissan has made a bunch of ugly cars over the years and one of the things you can say about those cars is that they were sincere in their accidental ugliness. They were mutts, but respectable.

        This is not one of those cars. It is like a deliberately styled mutt. It has no accidental beauty. It isn’t really artistic.

        I read through all the postings tonight, and what I can add to what has been said is that I know art. This car isn’t it.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Most three letter car names are terrible.

      However, the Juke deserves one. Nissan should have named it the “WTF.”

    • 0 avatar
      klossfam

      Indeed – The Juke is a nice chassis – Had one for the night and really liked the power train even with my hate of CVTs. If it was parked in my garage, I’d just hang a blindfold by the keys and learn to feel my way to it in the dark.

      IF this chassis was under a semi-acceptable looking, semi-hot hatch, they would have trouble keeping them on the Nissan dealer lots (especially here in the North with AWD).

      Props to Nissan by sticking to concept but ultimately they stuck it to themselves with limited sales.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    I don’t know why, but thoughts of sauerkraut & beer on an empty stomach occur to me when I look at this vehicle.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Reading the series has helped my appreciation of seeing the “art” in automobile design. Bravo Sajeev.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Those rubber bits and the tacky trim will age very quickly. Given the stigma that comes with driving a cheap new Nissan, no guy will get laid driving this. Still, I applaud Nissan for being bold with the design of this thing. The Juke and the FX look like concept cars, and the latter looks fresh despite being old as hell. Can you guys do one on older cars, too? Like the 2000 Accord or the Ferrari F40 or something? Old cars rock.

    The first article I read on TTAC many years ago, an article that made me a daily reader since 2006, was one reviewing the design of the new 2007 S550. He added really cool commentary on the state of the industry as a whole and how that affected the design of the car. Really awesome article. I’m rambling.

  • avatar
    niky

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I’ve always felt the hate for the Juke was more because it was utterly unconventional rather than it actually being ugly. So like me, I like the design, it’s unusual, but cohesive, and it plays well on the eyes if you bother to cast your preconceptions to the wind.

    And I like the way they did the rear tail-light better than Ford did it on the Focus. Much better.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed. And, for the record, I still hate this car. Just not like the Pontiac Aztek.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Juke is Aztek-level ugly but in a mostly different way (aside from the lights fiasco).. Where the Aztek is slab-sided, boxy and conventional, all cladding and horrible proportions, the Juke goes off the deep end with that horrible roofline (why even have 4 doors with that?) and bloated bubble-butt fenders. I would submit the Juke to the UN/World Court to have putting an adult in its back seat a war crime.

        I do like the taillights though, and I also kinda like the Volvo C30 and Leaf taillights. Almost tailfinny.

        (If anything, they should have made it an updated VehiCROSS.)

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          From what I’ve heard, at least the Aztek is both practical and its styling was arguably ahead of its time.

          The Juke is neither of these, and the new Cherokee will take away whatever “unique presence” the Juke had.

      • 0 avatar
        gotsmart

        I have a really hard time with the Juke. When it was first unveiled as a production model, i literally said, out loud, “Is this a joke?” and i checked the calendar. I couldn’t believe that something so obnoxious… so *different* could actually be put into production.

        I think it’s ugly. But at the same time, i can’t stop looking at it. It’s like my eyes are trying to make sense of it for my brain, and never seem to reconcile it all.

        You look at its face, and you wonder which eyes you should be looking at, the squinty ones up top, or the round ones down below. Is the grille a moustache, or a unibrow? At least it’s not like the Murano, with its grinning maw above its eyes, like Tom Tucker’s son on Family guy.

        The downward slope of the roof and rear haunches make it look like some kind of alien amphibian squatting down getting ready to jump. Every surface and vantage point is busy and overly-complicated. The curved rear glass takes away from the cargo space, and ends with a couple of very fussy-looking tail lamps.

        And yet, i still can’t keep myself from looking at it. I like it a heck of a lot better than every single redesigned Nissan to come out in the last couple of years (which isn’t saying much). Damning with faint praise seems to be the best i can do.

        I, too, hate the Aztek, and had an almost identically incredulous reaction when i saw it for the first time at the auto show. Yet somehow, the Juke redeems itself with great driving dynamics and excellent packaging… and i still can’t keep myself from looking.

        If they had made it look a little more conventional and squared off the back a little more for more cargo versatility, it may not have been as polarizing. But then it would have been a Kia Soul.

        Ultimately, i have to ask myself, “Is it a successful design?” My answer is a begrudgingly a “Yes,” if only because it’s polarizing, commands attention, and didn’t pull any punches. It’s defiantly unique, and i suspect that it may become a “classic” one day.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Even before reading this article I knew it was going to be some long winded attempt to convince us that this Japanese ‘car’ is not ugly. But I am sorry it is.

    It’s like someone trying to convince you a bunch of trash left at the modern art museum is really art. This actually works on some people. But not everyone. Trash is trash – and ugly is ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      rwb

      You must be a great designer, speaking with such authority.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      At least Japan has lots to be proud of its automotive industry. What do Celtic countries have to be proud of when it comes to automobiles? The DeLorean is the only significant automotive “achievement” from a Celtic country I can think of. That’s not saying much good at all about Celtic countries and cars.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’ll take ugly over bland. A lot of effort went into that design, and they really really tried.

    But the price for what it is, the CVT, and being a Nissan in general; I’m not buying it.

  • avatar
    AFX

    “Tacky rear mud flaps are tacky. Boo for the lack of integration.”

    Are you kidding me ?. There’s NOTHING on the whole car that’s integrated or cohesive.

  • avatar
    rwb

    Something about this car causes the most intense knee-jerks I’ve ever seen. Are we all looking at the same object here?

    It’s as if because it doesn’t look like a bar of soap, no one can reconcile the design elements in their head.

  • avatar

    This is, most definitely, not the Thomas Kinkade of auto design. I read a few reviews whereby the words, ‘ugly’, ‘joke’, ‘son of the Atzec’ were bandied about so I got to looking who was driving the Juke. Every single driver was female (go figure), 40-60 and looked like the archetypical school teacher. Is this the car for the woman going through a mid life crisis?

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Being a car designer must be a next to thankless task. Play it safe with a design and most call it “generic & bland”, come up with something unique and it’s “ugly & weird”. On the rare occasion that a design is generally regarded as attractive, there’s always the diss that it’s derivative of “x” and not original….I’d snap if I were a designer.

    On an related note, up in the snowbelt I absolutely HATE windshield wipers that are tucked under the hood edge like what is shown. My wife’s FX35 wipers are designed the same way and while it looks nice they make it an absolute PITA as snow/ice collects in the cavity and freezes the wipers in a solid mass. To free them, you have to angle your scraper and chip away at the ice while avoiding scratching up the painted edge of the hood. /rant

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I have had nothing but respect for the Nissan engineering ethos. The Ghosn design school is an assault to my senses. You are giving credit where none is due. It reminds me of Fallingwater – a beautiful design unnecessarily imposed on a serene site by a massive ego.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Um WHAT!? Fallingwater is majestic, and integrates the landscape directly into the home. For god’s sake the stream runs through it. I really don’t think you know what you’re talking about at all.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        But the water echoes throughout the house rendering it unlivable. – Nice in photos though.

        • 0 avatar
          AFX

          The house was never meant to be a liveable house, it was a summer vacation retreat for the Kauffman family. They used to visit the falls in the summertime to get away from the heat of Pittsburgh. Of course then most of Wright’s houses are not designed to be “liveable” houses in the sense most people think of a house. He’d design the whole shebang himself, house, furniture, decorations and landscaping, and that’s the way you got your house. The Wright houses are more like living in a museum because you can’t really change that much in the interior or exterior without ruining his vision of what the house should be like. Way different from modern houses where the interiors get remodled every decade or so when you get tired of looking at the pink and turquiose of the 60′s and update them to avacado and harvest gold in the 70′s. Even if you wanted to change Fallingwater you couldn’t because the walls are stone and concrete and the floors are stone. It’s not like you can knock a few studs out and add on an addition.

      • 0 avatar
        Skink

        The stream runs under Fallingwater, not through it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I was under the impression Lloyd-Wright built it to integrate with the existing site, this seemed to be the case when I visited it years back.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      ” It reminds me of Fallingwater – a beautiful design unnecessarily imposed on a serene site by a massive ego.”

      FWIW when Edgar Kauffman commisioned Wright to build the house he was expecting it to above the falls, probably where the guest house is located, not directly next to the falls and hanging over the water. The family was suprised when they first saw the design drawings and where he located the house but they gave the go ahead anyways. The main problem with the house isn’t it’s location, the main problem is with the cantilevered patio decks sagging over time, and the house needing to be repaired to fix the cracks in the concrete.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I can’t see it, just doesn’t do it for me.
    Being a nissan doesn’t help either, I’ve had a nissan pickup small 5 sp manual with a 4 cyl a truck that when new was $9k the replacement parts on these vehicles rivals rolls Royce
    I thought parts for my Hummers were a little high but this vehicle which is pocket change to what the hummer costed new cost more to repair then anything I have ever seen, I’d have been afraid if I had bought it new that a slight fender bender would total the thing in costs

  • avatar
    Fordson

    “Even before reading this article I knew it was going to be some long winded attempt to convince us that this Japanese ‘car’ is not ugly. But I am sorry it is.”

    This. Could not say it better myself. Just a catastrophically ugly car.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I must be a Luddite, because even after Mr. Mehta’s “explanations”, this thing still looks to me like a jumbled mash-up of every trendy, trashy design element ever conceived.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I definitely appreciate the design more, but the fundamentals- the low glass to metal ratio, the nose, the low wheelwell to metal ratio- for what it is, it works, but it is still horrible.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I’m just an old guy who looks at this car with amazement that Nissan has put all this effort into it. Not only is it unappealing but it’s some kind of SUV. Strike 2

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Even though they aren’t my taste, I’m glad that Nissan has the bravery to create cars as garish as the Cube and Juke. It’s nice that we still see inexpensive cars that haven’t been slathered with anonymous looks from Nissan; even our Murano SL is shaped rather unusually compared to its competitors. And both the Juke and the Cube seem to be finding plenty of customers, so Nissan’s gamble must have paid off…

  • avatar
    bg

    Every time I see this the Juke I think of the current Kia Optima, which I consider the Opposite of the Juke. I consider each of the Juke’s design elements (lights, fenders, windows) to be attractive and well-executed, but a complete disharmonious hidge-podge of incongruity. The Kia Optima is a smooth, sleek confluence of design with a unified motif, but the parts themselves are pedestrian and unremarkable, save for the chrome spear along the roof. The Juke is like some hip-hop dubstep rant which has moments of brillance but is just a mash-up of quick clever measures. Or even a bee-bop trumpet solo which alludes to standards but strings them together in the most tenuous obtuse fashion. The Kia Optima is a small quiet tale, told well and carefully crafted so that the sum is greater than the whole of its parts. THe Juke is just parts.

  • avatar
    racer193

    I like the overall shape of the juke. I hate the turn signal placementon the front but I think the aftermarket could fix most of this by offering that light assembly with blacked out plastic instead of the chrome. while it may not totally fix the issue it will definatly make it stick out less. Id buy one in dark grey of black.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Whew my eyes hurt after that. People must like them because I see them regularly on the road….usually speeding for some odd reason. Great article though…I look forward to these.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    You kids get your ugly crossover off my lawn!

    At least, that’s what I thought when I first saw one. Its face is on upside down! A mishmash of Japanese design cues.

    It’s been out awhile, and while I still can’t embrace it, I hate it less. Is it still the Nissan Joke(TM)? Kinda. Maybe in another 10 years, it’ll grow on me some more. Just park it in your garage till then.

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    No matter which way you look at it, it is warthog ugly.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    You LIKE the roof? Oh no.

    That “GTR” roof fails where the Evoque succeeds, and it KILLS all useful space inside the back of the car.

    I agree on the unnecessary Titan grill shoehorning. Google search for the “Fox Marketing Juke-S” to see what a difference it makes not having it there. The overly pronounced marker lights detract from the contrasting round lights that actually work well on this design. It looks like last minute focus group rubbish. This leads me to my next point.

    This car doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be! It’s a high, crossover like vehicle, and they didn’t capitalize on it. Now it’s a Versa rental after encountering a deer. It needs some Patrol DNA. You just made me look at the Juke concept (the Extrem one) for the 1st time. Yep. Just as I expected, they ruined it:
    Aggressive front and rear fascia made to look cutesy? Check.
    Off-roader wheel and tire package swapped to the Altima’s? Check.
    As a bonus, roof hump that would have actually improved interior space has been deleted.

    NISMO doesn’t even seem to know what it should be, judging by their latest concept.

    I don’t hate the Juke for being ugly. I hate it for a more offensive reason. I hate it for almost getting it right, then blowing it over the most trivial elements.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    Thank you for this review. The styling isn’t for me but the world needs more strangeness with car design. It was nice to have a review not filled with the “kill it with fire” that the Juke usually brings out.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    Great edition and very well written! Somehow I never noticed how the windshield doesn’t extend all the way to the top of the roof.

    I already knew I was weird…but I actually like this car. This is exactly the kind of design that I typically hate – overwrought and too many elements at play. I despise Muranos and dislike Hyudais for their radical styling that will not age well. But for some reason I really do like the Juke. If I could get this with a VQ37 and a 6MT, I’d buy it tomorrow.

    I don’t understand myself either.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    *Rubs hands together vigorously prior to reading*

    Alright…here we go! I’ve been waiting for this one…

  • avatar
    th009

    “Then again, the Nissan Juke is impossible to miss, and easy to appreciate. While it may never grace your parking space, it deserves your respect.”

    This really sums it up. There is some very good design in the Juke, and I can respect that (unlike, say, the new Cherokee). But even with the good design, it’s too ugly to my eyes to ever grace my driveway.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I love how they’ve got hidden handles on the Juke – a Nissan trademark for SUVs since the 4-door Pathfinder bowed in 1990, more than two decades ago, as it happens.

    Agree that it’s very well-executed production concept car. The sheer audacity of the design has grown on me, especially as I see more on the road. It makes a Kia Soul look boring.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “I love how they’ve got hidden handles on the Juke”

      I thought the opposite. I always thought this was a silly Nissan trademark, and I thought it might have gone away with the re-design of the new Nissan Pathfinder. The ancient Armada still has this design feature, although its former platform mate, the Infiniti QX56 is now based on the Nissan Patrol (I almost said QX, before I thought about the renaming). It was really meant as a transition from the 2-door SUV to the 4-door SUV, and was quite outdated and annoying to use.

      What I do wonder is if the backseat is easier to get into than those hidden handle Pathfinders. The cut of the fender rendered it difficult to get in with those vertical handles.

      The trim piece around the fender is functionally useful — it keeps the rear door edges from being covered with dirt kicked up from the rear.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I never liked the hidden door handles myself, where they’re positioned they’re likely to break off like on older Oldsmobiles, but worse is when your kid has to open the door but can’t reach nor find the handle.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        My parents have an 08 Pathfinder right now. The rear handles aren’t good to grab, as they take a special sideways effort to pull them. They’re sort of hard to pull as well. Then, you try and climb in through a narrow entry for your feet, while a huge fender bump blocks any easy hip motion that might happen. I can’t get into this car without hanging onto the grab handle – and I am 26.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    One word summary of my feelings toward the styling. BARF!
    That said, I have a friend who really likes it.
    Also my boss just bought one, and I constantly rib him about it, but the bottom line is he genuinely likes it, and remind him through all of my ribbing that his feelings are all that really matter. It is his car.
    I do very much like the machine lurking under the sheet metal. Small hot turbos are clearly my cup of tea.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You’ll surely be getting a promotion in no time, don’t worry.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “One word summary of my feelings toward the styling. BARF!”

      Its funny that you should say that, considering the name of the car itself.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Now I know its a Hitler/Stalin argument, but which is worse, Juke or the new “Cherokee”?

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          While the Juke looks uglier to me, the new Cherokee is the worse due to the fact that its a slap in the face for Cherokee fans, and the ugly styling isn’t even that unique to boot.

          I’m not a big Cherokee guy myself, but I always liked their basic square styling, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Jeep enthusiasts that’re going to have to stomach this new look.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          To be honest, I think the best change that Chrysler could do to the new “Cherokee” is to change the name, if they must release that thing they should make it something new.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “Still, I applaud Nissan for being bold with the design of this thing.”

    Exactly my thoughts.
    Many of the B&B complain about the bland and appliance-like styling of modern cars, most specifically the Japanese ones.

    Bold and radical designs are either love-it or hate-it affairs. Much like the Aztek. At least the Juke is actually fun to drive (I test drove the 6 speed manual).

    I really considered buying one….but unfortunately the ultra-cramped rear seats made it a no go. I’m 6’0″ and thin, but it was difficult geting in and out of the rear seats. And I would not survive a 1/2 hour ride there.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ve yet to find any angle of this thing that I could appreciate, save for the back end when the thing drives away.

    I’m not one for these “unique rides”, their purpose is to satisfy an owners desire to stand out until everyone else around town has their once “unique ride”, that with hard resale and the instantly dated styling make cars like these utterly disposable.

    Can I give credit for Nissan trying something bold? Yes, much in the same way that the PT Cruiser and the New Beetle were bold steps, they were also terrible cars that no man could fix nor fit in.

    But then again my idea of perfect commuter car styling amounts to stuff like the first gen Scion XB and Volvo 100-200s, not exactly exciting but you’ll be thankful on a road trip.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      “But then again my idea of perfect commuter car styling amounts to stuff like the first gen Scion XB and Volvo 100-200s, not exactly exciting but you’ll be thankful on a road trip.”

      I know VW had their multi-colored “Harlequin” paintjobs on some of their cars. What the Scion and the Volvo need is a Rubik’s Cube vinyl wrap treatment.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Polarizing is never a good quality of design. It is an acceptance of failure as a designer to forfeit the beautiful and settle for a desperate appeal for attention. The world would be a better place if polarizing designers were directed to another field.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      The original Ford Taurus had a polarizing design. All it did was radically change an entire decade’s worth of car design.

      I’m not saying that the Juke’s design will be as influential as the original Taurus, nor do I like the way the Juke looks myself, but at least Nissan deserves credit for making a compact CUV that doesn’t look like every other compact CUV out there.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I find it hard to believe that Ford wanted the Taurus to polarize. Some people weren’t ready for it, but the idea was to build an Audi 100 for mainstream buyers while giving conventional mechanicals an aura of modernity, not to cater to attention whores.

        • 0 avatar

          Ford wanted the Taurus to polarize. They took chances and even said to the designers, “make the type of car that you’d want to drive.”

          Of course, the confines of a family sedan require non-Juke like insanity. So it worked.

  • avatar
    zinnah

    Kind of like a tatted up woman. Not my style, I don’t find it really attractive, but it certainly does look interesting and I might want to take it for a ride.

  • avatar

    Full Disclosure

    I am a salesperson at a Nissan/Infiniti Dealership. When I first saw pictures of the Juke I did not like it due to the fact that there was now way to gauge the size. After seeing it in person I saw what the designer was after. I tried to lease an awd leather navigation in Black which I think is the best colour but they were sold out.

    The cut of the door and the whole design needs the spoiler to make it work.

    http://www.jukeforums.com/forum/attachments/nissan-juke-appearance-body/37599d1297789049-non-nissan-branded-rear-spoiler-installed-perfect-p1000445.jpg

    I was also going to replace the grille with the impul grille

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/making-out-with-giant-spoilered-body-kitted-frogs-the-impul-tuned-nissan-juke/

    I think these two design changes make all the difference in the world to the design.

    Cheers,

    Swervin

  • avatar
    F-85

    Meh. I like it. And I’m grateful for your insights, Sajeev. Hope you’ll be in better and better places as the year goes on.

  • avatar
    probert

    You’re a brave man Sajeev and I salute you. It is a striking design and considering all the elemnts it tries to reconcile it’s successful. Good taste is so boring – to hell with euro this is full bore Japanese (with a little French – true)

    One thing I’d note for the “ugly” crew- the fwd with the stick is a blast to drive.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    To me, the Juke will always be one of those few vehicles that look SIGNIFICANTLY better after being driven head-on into a tree at 120mph. Absolutely fugly.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    In much the same way Mr. Bangle changed or influenced car design I see the Juke as, not ugly but the future. Some or most of the “unusual” design elements will mature and work their way into the mainstream. It’s inevitable.
    IMO… of course.

  • avatar

    I am really surprised that is has not been nicknamed ‘Kermit’ by now.

  • avatar
    redav

    I won’t say it’s ugly, but I won’t disagree with anyone who does. And won’t say I hate it, but it does stir heated and unpleasant feelings when I see it.

    What I will say is that it is not so much a car as a caricature of a car. Each identifying feature is exaggerated so as to be impossible to miss: the grille, the fenders, the bug eyes, the slopey roof. I’m somewhat surprised it doesn’t come in similarly exaggerated colors.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Why should the people at the top end of the net worth spectrum get all the ugly cars. The Juke is the poor man’s gaudy, ugly, over-styled, look-at-me Veneno or LaFerrari.

    @Sajeev, congrats on a year of Venom!

  • avatar
    AFX

    What the “styling” of the Juke reminds me of:

    1. “Oh, I’m in the weird part of YouTube again !”.

    2. The Japanese have some really weird sexual fetishes, like women having sex with octopus tentacles. You see something like that and think to yourself “How can anybody be turned on by THAT ?!” It was one of THOSE guys that must’ve styled this car.

    3. If you took a big bunch of automotive styling cues, threw them all in a cardboard box, gave them to some Japanese kindergarden kids and asked them to stick them all together on car-shaped block clay like a Mr Potato Head, THIS is what they’d come up with.

  • avatar
    Skink

    I don’t respect the designers of the Juke. The front end is aggressively, heinously ugly. It’s a narcissistic, self-indulgent stab at trying to get ahead of the market. Like the Edsel, it’s totally untethered to any aesthetic principles, and it fails. Sure, it’s creative. So’s Yoko Ono, who also is second to no one in being able to clear a room.

    OK, the rear end is graceful but it’s a shameless ripoff of Volvo and to the extent it reaches forward nicely, still doesn’t redeem.

    Clueless and artless up front, lazy and derivative in the back.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    As someone who remembers the rather bizarre Nissans of the 70s (google Datsun F10), I’m glad somebody had the cajones or, perhaps, unique aesthetic sensibilities, to greenlight the Juke. I wouldn’t want to live in a world full of them, but I’m glad there’s still a few weird Nissans on our highways.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Thanks for another great column, and may you continue to be in better places. So say we all.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    I quite like it, but I can completely understand others hating it. No-one could ever claim that it’s not (or shouldn’t be) a polarising design!

    Sajeev, do you think perhaps the reasons for some of the panel lines are related to getting the panels to fit the platform? I note many of it’s platform-mates share similar lines, especially around the hood….

    • 0 avatar

      That is entirely possible, but usually the platform’s “hard points” are usually more steadfast around the firewall. The stuff forward of the strut towers (and definitely forward of the radiator) is pretty flexible based on the design of the front fascia.

      From what I’ve seen, that is.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Juke is a case of “the parts greater than the whole”- taillights & details: awesome- car overall: doesn’t fit- Juke is the platyus of motorcars.

  • avatar
    piggybox

    With so much hate, the sales figure of Juke isn’t too bad in US

    Crossover February 2013 February 2012 Year-to-Date
    Ford Escape 24,110 18,666 44,049
    Honda CR-V 20,668 24,759 38,477
    Chevrolet Equinox 20,649 17,851 37,872
    Toyota RAV4 13,329 12,679 24,939
    Nissan Rogue 9964 13,423 18,915
    GMC Terrain 9802 8086 18,352
    Jeep Patriot 6329 5120 11,577
    Subaru Forester 5529 5565 12,094
    Mazda CX-5 5451 357 10,695
    Jeep Compass 3776 2780 6,892
    Hyundai Tucson 3444 3736 6,937
    Nissan Juke 2829 2947 5190
    Volkswagen Tiguan 2533 2280 4,647
    Kia Sportage 2334 3410 4,756
    Mini Countryman 1662 1294 3,078

    source: http://wot.motortrend.com/february-crossover-sales-ford-escape-leads-equinox-19-units-behind-cr-v-335931.html?ti=v2#axzz2NINYJv1e

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Are you sure? It seems like 2,600 people can buy any given CUV by accident each month. Outselling the Tiguan, the Sportage and the Countryman is a lot like bronzing at the Special Olympics. The Tucson and the Compass ‘won’ the Gold and Silver.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Mazda seems to be the only Japanese designer really putting out good looking cars. But yet few folks buy them.. Just get a Mazda over this thing. Better tranny and better looks. And now with the bigger engine coming (2.5 Liter and the diesel) the power problem is gone.

    I had hopes for the Cherokee but while better then this – its still not good.

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    Congrats on this one year anniversary! I have enjoyed this column throughout its existence. As a recent-ish ACCD Trans Design grad (2010) doing work not as an exterior or interior designer (but thankfully still design), I can relate to this passion outside of a (other) profession. After being shown this site four-five years ago, it quickly became a favorite for all things car. From the “normal” fare of reviews and news to special columns. Then this. I could go to CarDesignNews or Car Body Design for updates, except in spite of all my classmates going there because it was somehow quite official, the sites had no pulse. You (and TTAC) have a pulse! You, in your VV columns, show appreciation where appropriate, and then go after things that should or shouldn’t be there in a fun or deliberate (either way, passionate) manner. And you review old pristine Hyundais! So cool! Taking what we’ve learned to not only draw or describe the nice stuff but also to analyze the cheaper metal–the more “real” vehicles.

    To the Juke! Like you said, I’ve always thought this was a pretty good translation from “sketch” to production. Those fenders, the DLO shape, the lights, all that stuff was there just with big wheels. Chrysler is usually pretty good at showing concepts that end up being quite close to production, and this being the age of the designer, we’re seeing more concept-y looking concept vehicles become real, for better or worse. The Juke is polarizing, and 100% silly, and quirky looking, surprisingly competent as a driver, and GAH those headlights. The taillights are very well done. Wheels are tragically too small in overall diameter (proportion proportion proportion! And stance, but not /STANCE ). Would I ever buy one? No. Do I hate them? Nah, I used to, though. The Juke doesn’t take itself seriously and thematically is coherent (ie, it looks ridiculous and “fun”), so I absolve it from comparison to more normal vehicles. Oh, and those compact dimensions are a boon in city driving/parking situations. I’m thankful for my compact car, even if Panther and old Ram truck love run strong through the veins.

    The real fun test will be to see a second generation Juke, if in fact it does come to be. Design a splashy thing once, ok. Redo it in a meaningful way? Here we go. Same with the Challenger. Also, somewhat related, as a former design student who knows at least some of the game and who wants to stick up for the lowest-in-the-pile people that are entry-level designers, in addition to the myriad of regulations auto companies have to deal with, levels of (competent or incompetent) management exist above the “it” sketch and development. Up the chain will be bigger egos, personal opinions that trump everything, preferences, and design ignorance in those people that do exist (not all at once all the time) and stand ready to derail a beautiful sketch or concept on its way to production. I know you are aware of this, so this is mostly for everyone else: Don’t (always) blame the designers! There’s more to the process! There are plenty of great Trans Design grads that went to Calty (Toyota’s advanced design school in SoCal) where dreadful cars/concepts came out of (this was a few years ago). Who’s responsible? Not the former students, that’s for sure! Thankfully Toyota is turning the ‘beige’ table around, so who knows what we’ll see from there.

    Anyway, ending the novel here. Congrats again. Looking forward to the next installment!

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Everyone who hates the Juke needs to drive one. It is the best small car under 20k for performance and driving dynamics, even with the CVT. The CVT is actually a great match for the car, it performs well with the 1.6 turbo. ALso, the looks sort of grow on you after you drive it. I hated it at first, then I took a test drive and bought it the next day. I put 50k on it in two years and havent had a problem. Its just a great car and I will probably buy another when this wears out if they still make them.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That might be the most sensible post in this article.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      “Best small car for driving dynamics”

      Huh? It has a few extra inches of ground clearance it doesn’t really need. That put it below almost any generic FWD ecobox with regards to driving dynamics. Like the excellent focus or the Mazda 3..

      As for the looks “sort of growing on you.” I learned my lesson 15 years ago. Don’t buy ANY car that you don’t like – looks and all. This is true nowadays when most cars are reliable enough and especially true in the CUV segement which has a ton of competition.

      It’s not my money but why settle? If you kinda need to talk yourself into something – its almost always a mistake. A new car should be a joyous occasion..

      • 0 avatar
        Pinzgauer

        Have you driven it? I dont think you have. Go take a test drive, you’ll be shocked.

        Also can you buy any of the cars you mentioned with bluetooth integration and 200HP for under 20k? I dont think so.

        This is a shockingly good commuter car for an enthusiast, weird looks and all. I also have a Miata which is about to be sold and a Boss 302 Mustang, and I can say that for DD the Juke has no problem keeping my attention, it is a fun car.

        I also admit to liking weird cars. I bought a first year Ford Focus when everyone said that was the ugliest car they ever saw. I almost bought a first gen Scion Xb but ended up with an Aerio instead, so quirky is good for me. Nothing worse than a silver Camry IMHO.

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    I think the Juke is the kind of vehicle that Subaru engineers from the 1980s would’ve designed in 2012. Imagine a Juke with a WRX engine and drivetrain in addition to hydraulically assisted power steering. That would be an all-weather rally beast.

  • avatar
    merc88

    and… you hated the CTS-V coupe.

    • 0 avatar

      Obviously. I am a fan of design refinement, not slapping mismatched plastic bits and hoping it will flow/blend/not look cheap. And, wild guess here, I’m guessing nobody’s gonna cross shop an “ugly” $25,000 Juke with an M5 or E63 AMG.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Don’t know what to say. We love driving the damn thing. I’m neutral on the looks, the girls all love its appearance to death, but we all agree that it is a FUN little beast once you get behind the wheel! Nice shifter, good clutch action, and loads of fun from that little turbo.

    It’s the kind of car that makes you say “if only they had put this powertrain in…”

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Congrats on a year. I really enjoy this series and hope you keep at it.

    The trim crosses the panel line at the back of the side windows in a deliberate way. Despite your refrain of “DLO Fail!” I think it works. It reminds me of a 1950′s diagram of an atom and its electrons, with crossing ellipses.

    The too-short windscreen contributes to the hard-hat look, like the Z. It’s exaggerated on the Juke, like everything else. Maybe they overdid it to use an existing windscreen design?

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Wow – this post keeps getting comments.

    “The Juke really drives great.” Yes, but there is no shortage of good-looking cars that drive great, too. Admittedly, the Juke rewards the driver in a unique way – once inside, you don’t need to look at it anymore.

    “It’s polarizing like the first-gen Taurus.” Yes, there is that similarity, but the first-gen Taurus was an attractive design, so that’s where the similarity ends.

    “Mazdas are actually the best-looking Japanese cars today.” Agreed. So the company that released the 2010-2013 Mazda3 and worse yet the 2011-2013 Mazda5 is making the best-looking Japanese cars. Thinking about this in conjuction with the comment from another poster reminding us that Toyota established its CALTY studio, basically, to design cars that don’t look so Japanese…and then did not allow them to do their jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      piggybox

      “no shortage of good-looking cars that drive great”

      There is a shortage of cars that drive great with available AWD, high seating position and remain easy to park in cities: Juke, Mini countryman, Subaru XV and Buick Encore/Opel Mokka. Mini with similar HP is more expensive than Juke. XV while fun to drive is a bit slow and Encore is even slower. It’s not hard to see why Juke secures its position in this ‘urban crossover’ game in both US and Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        I like the Subie XV, but I wish they’d stuff a 2.0 turbo under the hood.

        The Countryman is sort of nice, but in top-spec trim with the Cooper S ALL4, it’s almost unbearable over broken roads, and there’s the feeling that there’s more suspension there than car. One of the few modern cars without a glass roof on which you can actually feel the chassis flexing.

  • avatar
    increased

    It looks like this car is pinching its eyes and smirking at the thought of you having to look at it.

    It beats the Fiat Multipla in terms of ugly and round shapes. Why exactly did carmakers decide to design parodies of cars? This could be the life-size version of a toy car.

    Personally, I believe that Nissan couldn’t decide whether they wanted to call the car a Joke or Puke and thus ended up with Juke.

  • avatar
    esparacino@comcast.net

    As a Nissan driver and skier in the Northeast, since 1991, all I wish for is a entry level Nissan with AWD. Suzukis are too risky an investment, Subaru, not the solid body I enjoy and no other AWD’s to choose from. Put all wheel drive on the Versa and I, too, can dismiss the Juke. The Juke is an imitation of the Porche Cayenne. Where did the name Juke orignate from? Joke and Jerk come to mind when I even say the name. And for anyone who has worked in a cubical, the Nissan Cube while comfortable, is a small business vehicle. Does Nissan employ any female car designers?


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