2011 Nissan Juke vs. 2011 Mini Countryman

A. J. Mueller
#Mini, #Juke

There's no competing with the astounding snow statues, but the Juke and Countryman draw a fair amount of attention as well. Outside the Uphill 41 karaoke bar, a voice from a loud pack of students asks if that's the new Mini. Indeed it is, and wouldn't you say the designers have hit their mark? Brand fanatics may argue that a larger, four-door crossover bastardizes the brand, but we'd say that argument has worn thin in the nine years that the steroidal Cooper has been so successful. The modern Mini brand is about quirky styling and relative size. If it's identifiable as a Mini, it is a Mini. And in that respect, the Countryman fully delivers. The newest Mini reiterates the signatures established by the BMW-designed Cooper with headlights that poke through the clamshell hood and mirrors and a roof that contrast with our Countryman's white paint. Black plastic lower cladding keeps the visual mass to a minimum and a similar glass-to-sheetmetal proportion helps hide the fact that the Countryman is 7.1 inches taller than the Cooper.

In suburban Detroit, the Juke riled up a handful of high schoolers working at the local movie theater who needed help figuring out what it was. But there's no doubt just looking at it that the Juke is sporty, with its angry-eyebrow position lights, aggressively flared fenders, and taillamps that mimic the 370Z's. It also successfully pulls off a coupe-like profile with the well-hidden rear door handles and the sharply sloping roofline. The only details we're uneasy with are the deep-set round headlights and the exceptionally wide grille. Unquestionably, though, the Juke is sportier, more interesting to look at, and better portrays how dynamic these two vehicles are.

Back at Michigan Tech, this year's Winter Carnival theme revolves around books, so there's Harry Potter, "The Little Engine That Could," and a ten-foot-tall toilet celebrating the childhood classic "Everybody Poops." The sculpture that catches our eye, however, has nothing to do with reading. In fact, it's less of a snow statue and more of a snow speaker cabinet, measuring roughly 20 feet wide and 10 feet tall and holding 68 speakers wired to a 20-kilowatt generator. Photographer AJ Mueller envisions shots with partiers, the speaker wall, and one of our cars, so he interrupts a couple students screwing speakers into their plywood cutouts and proposes we bring the Juke back in a couple hours. "Are you sure you want to do that?" one student asks. "Last year they flipped a car."

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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