2011 Nissan Juke vs. 2011 Mini Countryman

A. J. Mueller
#Mini, #Juke

The Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman beg to be compared. The small crossovers are so similar in every physical measure and mechanical specification that you could imagine they were born of the same focus group, the same marketing gurus, and the same engineering team. Length, width, and height between the two are all within an inch. Each uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making about 180 hp. Both cars meter power to the rear wheels through electronically controlled differentials. The only place it seems our two automakers split paths was styling.

The Juke and the Countryman are also notable as the pinnacle of premium small cars. Dimensionally they're similar to the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta, but while the newest batch of subcompacts offers heated seats, leather, and navigation, these two up the ante with more powerful engines and unabashed style. In performance and appearance, we found these two crossovers so unexpectedly energetic -- particularly the Juke -- that we had to escape Metro Detroit's flat, straight, and chewed-up roads for our comparison.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a land so remote and so little known that, to the geographically challenged, it often secedes to Canada or altogether disappears from the map. Just three percent of the state's population lives here and a single area code covers the land mass that's larger than Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut combined. So by U.P. standards, Houghton, Michigan -- with a Wal-Mart and a Holiday Inn Express -- is a thriving metropolis, yet the surrounding area is exactly what's great about Northern Michigan: unspoiled beauty, small-town amicability, and roads that are actually interesting. It's also the home to Michigan Tech University, where every January 7,000 co-eds shake off their seasonal affective disorder and embrace their burden of being terminally dressed like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man with a month-long Winter Carnival. Houghton hosts a Rally America race, a vibrant university, and an average of more than 200 inches of snow every year. In other words, it's the perfect place for a pair of surprisingly sporty all-wheel-drive crossovers.

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I was considering one of the newer crossovers - I ended up buying the Countryman.The thing is, I even like how the Juke looks. But inside all that body rounding means the rear seats have way less room than the Countryman, and even the front seemed to have less headroom (I'm 6' 2"). The real deal killer for me though, was the CVT. I had tried a CVT before, in a MINI in fact when I test drove a cooper that had it. So I was interested to try it again as I figured that was just a bad implementation.Nope. The trouble with CVT is it delivers none of the technical promises. Here is the exact experience I had: The car salesman instructs me to stop at the bottom of a long hill. "Floor it!" he says. I do.Well after a LONG LONG TIME, the engine gets the command that I would like to move. It gradually does so. Eventually it picks up speed, but too late, too late! The Countryman I test drove by contrast (also automatic) lept forward on command. Also the Juke's steering was too mushy for me.
Jukerson, CVT's suck. Period.Just my opinion.
The Nissan Juke is cruelly misnomered - the obvious name for this car is clearly a Joke.It combines every bad aspect of design into one ugly piece of Tofu - a virtual nitemare of visual clues that have been avoided throughout automotive history because they - well they just don't go together. Just plain ugly. As for the Mini, it's the winner here - but by default. The Countryman is another answer to a question nobody asked. Mini SUV for $300 please..."It's a little better than a Juke..." (buzzer) "What's a Countryman?"
So Nissan didn't install snow tires for you. Poor babies!! How hard would it have been slap some on yourself???
You're right about that, gybognarjr. Not just ugly, but $35,000 ugly. Apparently the Aztek was just waaaay ahead of its time.
The cars are just getting uglier every day. These two are on top of the list. The AMC Pacer looked better.
Could someone explain the difference between leatherette and vinyl? The owner's manual doesn't mention which I have on my Craftsman riding mower. Is it possible it could actually have been leatherette all this time?
I would argue that the CVT is superior to a stepped transmission in nearly every way. I know, 0-60 times say different, but that's where you'd be wrong. Most driving isn't 0-60. In real world driving, most often it's 25 to 35, 25 to 45, 45 to 65, etc. What kills the stepped system is the power delivery. Time is wasted in downshifting to build the revs and torque for more speed and the eventual next shift. A CVT car is in the perfect gear as soon as the driver puts his foot down, and the engine revs are held in the powerband while the CVT puts down the toque for a nice smooth acceleration curve, unlike the the wavy-gravy acceleration curve a stepped system offers. When I drive a stepped system now it seems crude and harsh, and overtaking other vehicles seems like a chore instead of a joy. Just my opinion.

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