2011 Nissan Juke vs. 2011 Mini Countryman

A. J. Mueller
#Mini, #Juke

Similar in specs, different in character
Despite their small footprints, these two are definitely not fuel misers. The EPA estimates the Juke's fuel economy at 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while the Countryman is rated at 23 and 30 mpg, respectively. But in our test of hard and fast driving with a decent bit of idling thrown in the Countryman burned gas at an average of 19 mpg and the Juke coughed up just 18 mpg. Extreme circumstances, yes, but we weren't expecting the cars to underdeliver so spectacularly. We tried the Juke's Eco mode, but that simply detunes the gas pedal to make the car feel lifeless and laggy for the first twenty feet at every stoplight until you give up and mash the throttle. It had no bearing on highway economy and, with its 11.8-gallon tank, the Juke struggled to hit 200 miles between fillups. Both crossovers also feast on premium fuel.

That's the penalty of the potent, small-displacement engines moving these 3200-pound crossovers. Acceleration is swift, though not fast, but the real advantage here is the turbocharger providing a flat torque band that makes for confident passing. The Juke holds a 7-hp advantage at 188 hp to the Countryman's 181 hp and both engines are rated at 177 lb-ft, though the Countryman delivers temporary bursts at 192 lb-ft with overboost capability.

Thanks to the turbocharged torque, the all-wheel-drive Juke's mandated CVT elicits none of the underpowered, overtaxed feel given off by a Versa, Cube, or Sentra. The gearless gearbox makes for smooth and pleasant around-town cruising and in sport mode the CVT does a nice job mimicking downshifts by jumping to set ratios rather than the usual slow wind up. But ultimately, the CVT undermines the Juke's sporting pretensions by muting the turbocharged character and slowing how quickly the engine revs. From a stop, it hardly feels quick. By comparison, the manual-transmission Juke is a fizzy-bang ball of piss and vinegar energy, with more pronounced turbo lag and a penchant for spinning the front tires. It may not be a more efficient means of moving forward, but it's our flavor of fun, eagerly generating obscene demonstrations of power and requiring a touch of finesse to drive it fast.

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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