2011 Nissan Juke vs. 2011 Mini Countryman

A. J. Mueller
#Mini, #Juke

Stylish spaces
In contemporary Mini tradition, the Countryman is a stylish, ergonomic train wreck inside. We're happy to see the volume knob is finally located amidst the cluster of audio controls, but the toggle switches and small buttons are difficult to locate and irritating to use. In place of a traditional center console, the Countryman uses a narrow central rail that stretches to the rear seats and allows for accessories like a glasses case, cupholders, and an iPod cradle to be clicked into place, slid fore and aft, swapped between front and rear, or removed completely. It's a fun concept, but the center rail is more whimsy and fashion than function, as is the unnecessarily large emergency brake handle. A more conventional console would provide more storage with better accessibility for the cell phones, iPods, sunglasses, and key fobs that we tote.

The stuff that really matters -- comfort and driving position -- are far less polarizing. The small-diameter steering wheel is nicely sculpted and slightly meatier than the Juke's, encouraging two perfectly placed hands at 9 and 3 o'clock. The standard leatherette seats are soft and well bolstered, the optional $250 armrest is perfectly placed, and the small cabin feels impressively airy thanks to the low and slender center rail, telescoping steering wheel, and upright glass. Despite the fact that there's room for a rear bench, Mini has limited Countryman seating to four, placing buckets in back that are just as comfortable as those up front.

It may not be as distinct as the Countryman's, but the Juke's interior features smart packaging and still packs style with trim pieces and the center console inspired by a motorcycle fuel tank and painted in a metallic red. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is just as good to grip as the Mini's, and we were never bothered by the absence of an armrest. Having experienced the Juke's vinyl-like optional leather, we appreciated the supportive sport buckets wrapped in black cloth with red trim. We were disappointed, however, to discover that the Juke's steering wheel doesn't telescope out for taller drivers. The cabin also feels more cramped with less headroom and rear-seat legroom.

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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