Every once in a while, a car comes along that makes you scratch your head a little. Look at the pictures of the 2011 Nissan Juke and stop scratching your head. If you've ever complained about all cars looking alike, here's your big, Nissan-badged can of shutyourmouth.
Nissan tells us that the Juke is designed for "aggressive attention-seekers," or in other words, youngish dudes who would normally be scouring Craigslist ads for a four-year old BMW 3-series, or an old Z, or perhaps a used Maxima.
Um, no. If it's one thing we're pretty sure of, it's that twenty-something guys looking at a 3-series aren't going to be checking out the Juke.
Then, Nissan tell us that the design for the Juke's taillights was inspired by the 370Z. Fair enough. The painted center console was inspired by a motorcycle gas tank. Yup, got that. The large, round headlights were inspired by rally cars. Okay, if I squint a little, I can see that.
Inspired by this and that and the other thing: that's a whole lot of inspiration. And yet nobody's talking about what inspired the whole car. If you ask me, it looks like it was inspired by a frog. Or maybe a crocodile.
And then Nissan talks about how the concept of the Juke is to combine the bottom of an SUV (flared fenders, high ground clearance, big wheels, large wheel gap) with the top of a sports car (the clamshell roof line, high sills, big hips, driving position, and maybe even those 370Z taillights.) This sounds strangely like the BMW X6 and Acura ZDX, except those two cars don't look like reptiles.
The Juke's styling comes from Nissan's European design center, which worked together with the Japanese home studio. Apparently, the North American design center wasn't involved in the process. And so we can imagine that Nissan's U.S. team was a little worried about what our market will make of it. They're predicting modest sales - it should sell somewhere around as many units as the Cube - which hints that perhaps Nissan's U.S. folks are as skeptical as we are.
Then again, we very much appreciate that they've given us the opportunity to drive pre-production Juke mules on the roads around Los Angeles. And after driving the Juke, we're pretty sure we know why they did: Its appearance is polarizing, but it's unequivocally a great little car to drive.