Nissan may have discontinued the North American-market Juke earlier this year, but the model remains a popular item in the European market, dating back to its 2010 debut. There, its polarizing looks and role as an enjoyable to drive city car helped keep the model relevant.
As even the freshest of takes can get stale after seven years, the Juke is due for a redesign. But will Nissan change the formula to give the small crossover broader appeal, or will weirdness, once again, rule the day? Considering Americans no longer have to contend with its quirks, as we have the subcompact Kicks working as its replacement, there’s real no reason for the brand to pull any punches. Likewise, Nissan global design boss Alfonso Albaisa’s description of the second-generation model promises anything but an average automobile.
“Our job was easier with the first one, because there was nothing else like it,” Albaisa told Autocar in an interview. “And that car’s success was so huge even given how polarizing it looked. The second one couldn’t be derivative or evolutionary and still be a Juke. We’d almost have to change its name to ‘Nancy,’ otherwise.”
However, the way he describes the design of the next-gen Juke doesn’t sound all that familiar. “It doesn’t look like IMx or new Leaf, either,” Albaisa explained. “It’s an urban meteor with a nasty attitude.”
With the exception of the NISMO variant, we wouldn’t describe the current Juke as such. Expect something meaner and more raucous than what you’re accustomed to, but also divergent from the rest of Nissan’s fleet. As that description primarily tells you what not to expect, there’s a large gray area left over. Albaisa might as well have called the new Juke “a different kind of weird” and left it at that.
Does its disparate design mean it might make an appearance stateside? We doubt it. While it probably wouldn’t step on the Kicks’ toes more than a little, the Juke was already dubbed a failure in the United States. Nissan won’t be rushing in to take another stab at it.
Rumored to use the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s V-platform, which underpins the Renault Clio and Nissan Micra, the second-gen Juke may be too underpowered for the American market. Autocar presumes the the crossover will adopt the 900cc three-cylinder and 1.2-liter four-cylinder turbo motors found in the current Micra and Qashqai (Europe’s equivalent of the Rogue Sport). There’s also a 1.5-liter diesel, but none of the engines are said to break 115 horsepower. That doesn’t sound particularly meteoric. Something bigger is bound to come along eventually, but the initial offerings would be be considered anemic by North American standards.
That’s alright, though — we can still appreciate the Juke from a distance. In fact, that might be better, as it’s sounding more and more like the vehicle simply exists as an exercise in off-kilter automotive design.
Albaisa failed to say when we would see the new model in the flesh. However, we do know that it’s supposed to enter production next year. Rumors hinted at a delay caused by an early incarnation being sent back for a redesign (for being too extreme), but the global design head said those claims are totally false.
“[The Juke] is certainly coming soon. But it didn’t get ‘sent back.’ I’m not sure where that story came from,” he said. “It’s a very cool car and it still has all of its attitude.”