What's new: Except for the global-B platform, which underpins the likes of Versa and Cube, everything about the 2011 Nissan Juke is brand new. Unquestionably a standout player in the burgeoning small-crossover segment -- with styling based on the outlandish, rally-inspired Qazana concept, how can the Juke not stand out? -- Nissan's fresh cute/ute boasts a direct-injected 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 and an available torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system.
What it's like to drive: The Juke's turbocharged DI 1.6-liter generates an estimated 185 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, plenty of oomph to motivate a curb weight in the range of 3000-3200 pounds. A continuously variable automatic is standard, with a six-speed manual available on front-drive models. The optional torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system splits torque up to 50/50 between the front and rear axles, and, more notable, routs torque side to side across the rear axle, reducing understeer and heightening cornering agility. The Juke AWD gets a multilink rear suspension in place of the front-driver's torsion beam. Wearing V-rated 215/55R17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires, the Juke AWD comes across as an engaging, fun-to-drive, and "tossable" small crossover.
You'll like: Quite possibly the polarizing exterior design, if your taste is eclectic. Flavorful facade aside, though, the Juke's turbocharged powerplant, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, standard Bluetooth phone capability, and available navigation with backup camera are all welcome plusses. Further, you'll appreciate a nifty I-CON interface that controls the audio and HVAC systems as well as the drive mode selector, which alters throttle sensitivity, CVT tuning, and steering effort when switching between Normal, Sport, and Eco.
You won't like: Quite possibly the styling. Otherwise, a tight back seat, limited cargo, and no manual transmission with all-wheel drive are negatives.
Sum up: Fun, feature laden, and a real looker.
Read more: First Look, First Drive, Photo Gallery, Hot Metal