Media Days for the New York Auto Show may be over, but our coverage is just beginning. New York marked the North American debut of the new Juke-a small, radically styled crossover that is bound to make waves when it goes on sale in September 2010. Details are a little sketchy, but we do know the Juke’s only engine will be a 1.6L turbo direct injected four cylinder, estimated at 180hp. Front-drive Jukes are available with a 6-speed manual and a CVT, while the torque-vectoring, all-wheel drive models will be offered with the CVT only.
The front end of the Juke is controversial, featuring giant fog lights at near headlight height, flanked by a wide grill. The headlight enclosures sit atop the fenders, ending inches from the bottom of the windshield. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. The rest of the Juke takes fewer risks, but the wild curves and fender flares and curves are hardly tame. My favorite view of the Juke is from the rear 3/4. The taillights are a cross between modern Volvo wagons and the Nissan 370Z-artful, classy, and brilliantly executed.
Priced around $20,000, the Juke is priced prime time for its target younger buyer. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth and iPod interface, while navigation, RearView monitor and leather heated seats will be optional. Focused on the global launch of the new Infiniti QX SUV, Nissan was very low-key about the Juke, which stands out as my favorite new car at the New York Auto Show.
Automakers have tapped into the youth market with a slew of boxy cars-the Honda Element, Nissan cube, Scion xB, and Kia Soul,with great success. But it has been that way for a few years now. The Juke challenges all comers, with the same attitude but swapping out boxy styling with over the top curvaceousness. What is appealing to the younger market of new car buyers stays cool for only so long, and Nissan is the first to offer an alternative to the refrigerator box on wheels that still captures an edgy, youthful spirit.