2011 Nissan Juke vs. 2011 Mini Countryman

A. J. Mueller
#Mini, #Juke

So Juke buyers are left with a monumental conundrum: traction or enthusiasm. Adding to the frustration is that Nissan stubbornly continues its CVT crusade despite the fact that it has failed to deliver any meaningful fuel economy advantage over the modern torque-converter automatics and dual-clutch transmissions used by other manufacturers. If we were going to live with a Juke, we'd be buying a front-wheel-drive model along with the stickiest summer tires we could afford.

The Mini's six-speed automatic, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to the engine's frisky, punchy character. Much more eager to rev than the Juke, the Countryman feels substantially quicker and turbocharger cues like the audible wastegate add to a more visceral experience. Shifts are quick and crisp, whether the transmission is left to its own devices or directed via the wheel-mounted paddles. In its entirety, the Countryman's powertrain package is just as entertaining as it is in the Cooper S cars.

A matter of money
Without a doubt, the Mini Countryman is the better car to drive. It is more natural in corners, boasts a more energetic powertrain, and feels more connected through its transmission. Is the Mini worth an extra $11,300? No, especially since raising the price with extras does little to enhance the driving experience. But a Countryman free of frivolous options is a well-equipped car that can justify the $4500 premium.

While the Countryman is the winner of this test, we're declaring the Juke a winner, too. Nissan's mainstream products are bland and uninspiring vehicles despite the fact that the company can build great niche cars like the Leaf and the GT-R. The Juke trends more toward those specialty vehicles in its execution -- fun to drive, exciting to look at, loaded with technology, and an incredible value -- but is practical and affordable enough to draw mass appeal. We hope it's a harbinger of things to come, as an ounce of the passion that went into the Juke could do wonders to make the Sentra, Altima, and Murano more compelling.

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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