The young and active are flocking to small city crossovers for multiple reasons. The so called ‘jacked up hatchback’ is perceived to be more fun and less domesticated than the traditional city car, the higher ride height also affords a more commanding view, and certain models have all-wheel drive which give better versatility.
The segment is saturated and buyers are spoilt for choice. The Mazda CX-3 has long been one of the strong performers, while the aging Mitsubishi ASX is still pulling in crowd with unrivalled value. So, instead of those two, we look at two alternatives instead.
The Juke is one of the segment’s pioneering models. Launched in 2010, the original Juke started out as a quirky looking thing that wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. That said, it was sized right, with practicality to boot. It was this formula that inspired the slew of competitors we see in the segment today.
Pricing before on-road costs for the Juke starts at $27,990 for the entry level ST grade, working its way up to $36,490 for the range-topping Ti tested here.
Toyota Yaris Cross
A complete opposite to the Juke, the Yaris Cross has just joined the party. As Toyota’s smallest SUV, the first-ever Yaris Cross now completes the company’s comprehensive SUV portfolio and serves to reach out to the younger crowd with an already familiar name – the Yaris.
Pricing starts from $26,990 and topped at $37,990 for the top-spec Urban grade driven here.
And so, let the showdown begin…
Which is more interesting to look at?
The new Juke is one hell of a transformation from before, in a good way. The oddball design of the old model is gone (thank goodness), replaced by something much easier on the eye. We like that the design is still one that is unconventional, yet pretty to look at.
Strong shoulder lines, a tapered floating roof and flared wheel arches characterise the new Juke styling, giving it a sporty and athletic appearance. Impressively, the remake has preserved many of the Juke’s defining design elements, namely those round headlights, short rear overhang and hidden rear door handles.
If the Juke is sporty, then the Yaris Cross is funky. The upright two-box design is made interesting with a two-tonne colour scheme with a black roof, boxed wheel fenders and lots of black accenting.
It shares no design elements with the Yaris hatch on which it is based, and that’s a good thing considering the Yaris isn’t quite a looker anyway.
Of the pair, the Juke has a sleeker and tauter stance, paired with larger 19-inch wheels (ST-L and Ti grades) compared to the Yaris Cross’ 18-inch items (Urban model). In our eyes the Juke is the better-looking car.
What are they like inside?
The Juke’s stylish design carries through to the interior. The round air vents accentuate the sporty feel inside, lifted further by the flat-bottomed steering wheel, round gear level bezel and Bose speakers on either side of the front headrests (Ti model only).
On the other hand, the Yaris Cross’ interior feels more generic and lower budget, though the semi digital instrumentation cluster does look quite cool.
The Nissan also does better in material use. In our top-spec Ti model, premium feel Alcantara-like suede covering is applied across the upper dashboard, door cards and front centre armrest, while deep and glossy piano black trims are used generously on the centre console and door switch surrounds. Elsewhere, those polished aluminium-look trim inserts around the air vents, steering wheel spoke, gear lever bezel and door grabs add a premium feel.
Meanwhile, the Toyota feels more plasticky everywhere you touch, and we’re not quite sure about the brown-black colour theme.
So, it’s the Juke again when it comes to interior presentation.
What about practicality?
The table is turned in the practicality department. The Yaris Cross’ boxy shape pays dividend when it comes to carving out interior space. Head and legroom at the front and in the back is much more generous than that in the Juke. With larger windows, there’s also more natural light inside the Toyota.
The Juke’s tighter rear space is not helped by that small rear door aperture, which has that sloping roof line to blame. The cup and bottle holders in the Juke are also slightly smaller and shallower in comparison to the Yaris Cross, though the present of a centre armrest in the former makes for a more comfortable long drive.
Surprisingly, the Juke has a larger boot at 422 litres compared to the Yaris Cross’ 390 litres, though the latter has a flatter boot floor and lower lip for easier loading, plus a powered tailgate (Urban model).
What are the features?
Both crossovers in range-topping guise come standard with built-in satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There’re also keyless entry and pushbutton start in both vehicles, though head-up display (HUD) is only fitted to the Toyota.
At eight inches, the Juke’s touchscreen is an inch larger than that of the Yaris Cross. It also has a more modern and intuitive interface. Audiophiles would certainly prefer the punchy 8-speaker Bose premium surround sound system in the Juke over the 6-speaker set up in the Yaris Cross.
How about safety?
Safety is up to date in both vehicles, with features fitted to both top spec models including autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), forward-collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and speed sign recognition.
The Juke goes one step further by featuring a 360-degree around view camera that will no doubt help in parking.
If you live in the rural areas and often drive at night, then the Yaris Cross’ automatic high beam will surely come in handy.
Let’s talk performance…
The Juke is powered by a 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels only – there’s no all-wheel drive option. Tiny the engine may seem, and the 84kW of power it churns out at 5250rpm may look modest, it’s backed by a decent 180Nm of torque that comes in at a relatively early 2400Nm.
There’s not much of a lag, and at full throttle it does gather pace quite quickly. But even when you’re just making it work half as hard, there’s good midrange torque to get you through the daily grind. The only issue with this engine is that it’s a bit gruff on idle and around slow traffic.
The pint size engine is paired with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission that shifts intelligently and snappily.
There’re two engine options for the Yaris Cross – a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine and a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid. The former produces 88kW at 6600rpm, matched with 145Nm from 4800-5200rpm, while the latter is good for a combined output of 85kW and 120Nm.
Both powerplants drive through a CVT automatic, with the petrol model front wheel driven only and the hybrid available with the option of all-wheel drive, where the rear wheels are solely electrically driven.
The non-hybrid 3-pot in the Toyota runs smoother than that in the Nissan, with less NVH (noise, vibration and harness) overall.
The hybrid Yaris Cross is even more refined, and despite appearing less powerful on paper, is actually more eager than the non-hybrid model. This is largely thanks to the instant torque of the electric motor assisting the engine.
Still, the hybrid is no match to the turbocharged Juke.
How do they drive?
Building on its good engine performance, the Juke feels rigid and alert on the road. The chassis is set up for good response and control, plus there’s plenty of grip even though it’s front wheel-drive.
Despite the sporty dynamics, the Juke still manages to maintain comfort. Admittedly, the ride is firm but it never crashes badly on bumps and potholes. Our Ti rides on 19s but it still feels fairly forgiving.
Road noise is generally kept at bay but on rougher tarmac the thin tyres on our Ti model can get vocal.
The Yaris Cross’ bulkier physics means it’s inherently less chuckable than the Juke. That’s not to say it’s sloppy, but it feels just a tad softer in the corners.
The comfort-tuned suspension does also mean it despatches potholes better and rides a little smoother on broken roads.
In the long run
The 3-cylinder turbo is amazingly economical on the freeway, zipping around 4.5L/100km on test. It isn’t too shabby around town, too, hovering at around 8.0L/100km. At the end of our weeklong test with mostly urban commute, the Juke returned a very respectable 7.1L/100km, against its rated 5.8L/100km. It does require RON95 premium unleaded fuel though.
The Yaris Cross’ is even more economical than the Juke, with the petrol version returning 7.2L/100km and the hybrid AWD averaging 4.5L/100km at the end of test. On paper, they are rated at 5.4L/100km and 4.0L/100km respectively.
The Juke has a long service interval, only requiring a visit to the dealer every 20,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. The Yaris Cross’ is slightly shorter at 15,000km or 12 months.
Both cars come with a factory warranty of 5 years with no cap on kilometres, with the Juke’s deal sweetened further with complimentary 5-year roadside assist.
A compact urban crossover has a lot to satisfy these days. It needs to be stylish, have decent space, equipped with the latest features and finally, economical.
Both the Nissan Juke and Toyota Yaris Cross have got all that covered. And so, only the small details separate these two.
The Juke is more fun to drive and has a better interior. The Yaris Cross scores better in interior space, refinement, comfort, and in hybrid guise, fuel economy. All important criteria for city runabout. And for that the more all-rounded Yaris Cross edges the Juke by just a whisker.
2021 Nissan Juke
2021 Toyota Yaris Cross
|Design and Comfort||7.5||8.0|
|Performance and Handling||8.0||7.5|
|Equipment and Features||8.0||8.0|
Pricing and Specifications
2021 Nissan Juke Ti
2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban
|Price (excluding on-road costs):||From $36,490||From $37,990|
|Warranty:||5 years, unlimited km||5 years, unlimited km|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||5 years roadside||N/A|
|Service Intervals:||12 months, 20,000km||12 months, 15,000km|
|Country of Origin:||Japan/United Kingdom||Japan|
|Engine:||Turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol: 84kW @ 5250rpm, 180Nm @ 2400rpm||1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol:|
88kW @ 6600rpm, 145Nm @ 4800-5200rpm1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol hybrid:
85kW @ 5500rpm, 120Nm @ 3800-4800rpm
|Transmission:||7-speed dual-clutch automatic||CVT automatic|
|Drivetrain:||Front-wheel drive||Front/All-wheel drive (hybrid)|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 5.8/Tested: 7.1||Claimed: 5.4/Tested: 7.2 (petrol)|
Claimed: 4.0/Tested: 4.5 (hybrid AWD)
|Fuel Capacity (L):||46||42|
|Body:||5-door SUV, 5-seats||5-door SUV, 5-seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 6 airbags, ABS, BA, EBD, ESC, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist System, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Emergency Brake Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, 360-degree view monitor||5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, ABS, BA, EBD, ESC, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist System, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Emergency Brake Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Auto High Beam, Head Up Display|
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs:||11||10.6|
|Tare Mass (kg):||1,225||1,160|
|Entertainment:||8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, AM/FM/DAB+, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 8-speaker BOSE stereo||7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, AM/FM/DAB+, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 6-speaker stereo|