New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman recently spent a substantial amount of time in our Four Seasons Nissan Juke. His fresh perspective is interesting yet largely familiar:
"I applaud Nissan's effort to strike out in a new direction and try something different with the Juke," Kitman says. "But I guess I wished that they'd tried something different still. I'm not in the it's-unspeakably-ugly camp (unspeakable ugliness being in the eye of the beholder), but the Juke's weirdness nonetheless strikes me as mannered and kind of pointless. Which, as you might imagine, makes me among those slightly befuddled by the announced plan to build a rocket-powered Juke-R. But I guess, why not?"
The Juke-R, of course, started out as a silly-yet-drivable Juke concept car with the ludicrous powertrain of a GT-R supercar. A Dubai oil baron or two decided that they simply must have a Juke-R in their personal fleet, though, so Nissan will build them "in extremely small numbers" -- at an astronomical price of nearly $600,000. Incidentally, no one here at Automobile Magazine has complained about any shortage of horsepower in our long-term Juke, although the turbocharged front-wheel-drive car's excessive torque steer has irked several drivers.
Kitman didn't fight torque steer during any of his workaday commuting, and he was quite pleased with the car's powertrain and wonders why it wasn't used to create a more sensible Versa-R: "As it stands, the Juke is quite reasonable to drive, with good pep and a surprisingly decent chassis. This makes it a lot less idiotic as commuter fare for the drive into New York City than some of its general ilk that I've experienced and what I would've expected. But mostly it made me wonder why Nissan never dropped the turbo four-cylinder and handling kit into the old Versa, with which the Juke shares so much. So, in sum, I don't love it, don't hate it -- I guess you could say I like it not like a friend but like an acquaintance I feel not unwarmly toward."
How's that for a lukewarm endorsement? It is, however, fully in line with the general consensus around here thus far.
Nonetheless, the Juke continues to draw an exceptional amount of attention from pedestrians and motorists, most of whom adore it, as road test editor Christopher Nelson reaffirmed while driving the Juke from Kitman's house back to Michigan. We'll tell you more about that trip as well as the Juke's Ann Arbor homecoming in the car's next update.