2011 Nissan Juke SL AWD: Dirt Bag
October 05, 2011
Did some scouting yesterday for an upcoming feature story/video in the Juke. Both the story and the scouting are a good excuse to get this car in the dirt. And, unlike Phil's experience, which consisted of more serious off-roading, I came away impressed.
Turns out, this ugly little pug really gets with it on a smooth gravel road, It doesn't like rocks, but when it comes to blasting around on roads with minimal grip, the Juke is surprisingly rewarding to drive. Sure, there's no way to launch it hard thanks to the CVT, but launching isn't everything. Once up to speed there's enough control over the power delivery to effectively manage the Juke's cornering attitude -- which is happily tail out if you drive it right.
Largely, this is because of the Juke's high-tech AWD system, which is designed to minimize understeer.
Drive it hard for too long and the CVT will overheat and you'll be relegated to lower power output until things cool down -- something I've experienced with other Nissan CVTs. But there's enough heat capacity that you can have some fun before the self protection demands a cool down. A few minutes of easy driving or idling returns things to normal.
Give this thing a manual transmission (only available with 2WD models) and it would be blindingly quick in the gravel. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for an ironic test involving the Juke and a slightly older, slightly uglier