Until now, Juke buyers only had the choice of an engine. Now Nissan is adding a hybrid drive — and it hits a nerve. Because the hybrid should reduce fuel consumption in the city by up to 40 percent.
When it comes to e-mobility, Nissan is undoubtedly one of the pioneers. The Leaf has been around for over ten years. The compact model was at times the best-selling electric car in the world and is now in its second generation. Nissan’s technicians paid less attention to the subject of hybrids. It was only through the alliance with Renault that things started to move. Together they developed a hybrid drive, in which Nissan contributed the combustion engine plus electric motor and the French partner contributed a starter generator and gearbox. Together they created an electrified drive with unprecedented technology.
The hybrid package is already installed in the Renault Captur. Nissan will use it in the Juke from autumn. Both models are based on a common platform. The Juke is thus the first vehicle from Nissan in Europe to be on the road as a hybrid and, alongside the Captur, meets competitors such as the Hyundai Kona and the Toyota Yaris Cross.
Under the hood of the Juke there is a 1.6 liter petrol engine (without turbo) and two electric motors. One rightly asks oneself: isn’t one enough? Answer: The engineers wanted to do without a separating clutch between the combustion engine and the transmission. To do this, they worked closely with their Renault colleagues in Formula 1. A starter generator with 15 kW/20 HP and a central, so-called HPM (High Powerful Motor) with 36 kW/52 HP were installed. The smaller one has the task of starting the 69 kW/94 hp four-cylinder, bringing it up to a certain speed in order to synchronize it with the corresponding gear.
This combination of electric motors and gears allows the Juke to be driven in series, in parallel or in a combination of both. Overall, the Juke has a system output of 105 kW. According to old calculations, that’s 143 hp and thus 25 percent more than in the small turbocharged petrol engine, which remains in the range.
The higher performance is not synonymous with higher consumption. On the contrary, thanks to the electrification and the skilful driving management – starting is always electric – the engineers succeeded in reducing the Juke’s thirst by a good 20 percent. Nissan even promises up to 40 percent for pure city traffic, because more than two-thirds of the time the petrol engine is not in use.
The braking energy gained also plays its part in the low consumption, 5.0 liters per 100 kilometers according to the WLTP cycle. The deceleration was designed in a way that normal car drivers are used to with petrol or diesel engines when they take their foot off the accelerator. If you want to gain a little more power and decelerate more, press the e-Pedal button on the center console.
The hitherto unique motor-transmission hybrid technology has another advantage in addition to good efficiency. The Juke does not show the “howling” (rubber band effect) that can otherwise be heard when the engine speed and gear ratio do not quite match acoustically when accelerating more vigorously. The combined drive reacts spontaneously to the gas and pulls away cheerfully.
At higher speeds, however, the four-cylinder clearly draws attention to itself. It is all the more astonishing how smoothly the whole thing runs when driving defensively. The system switches almost imperceptibly between the electric motor and the combustion engine, always with the focus on being as economical as possible. The Juke can also be driven for several kilometers purely electrically via the EV switch, depending on the charge level of the battery.
But the hybrid drive has another positive side effect: It gives the Juke more sovereignty and reduces the stress level, especially in the city. This makes the car look more mature than its class (B segment) usually pretends.
But there is also a drop of bitterness: The Juke Hybrid costs at least 3400 euros more than the comparably equipped petrol engine. So it takes quite a long time before the surcharge is compensated for by the saved fuel consumption.
And compromises have to be made in the trunk, since the battery is under the floor. This reduces the loading space from 422 to just 354 liters.