Motoring with Tonly Conlon: Juke gets hybrid power

A RECENT visit to Milton Keynes in the UK to drive the latest version of the Nissan Juke demonstrated that the company’s rapid shift towards electrification continues to gather momentum. The new Juke Hybrid, which will arrive in Ireland in September, is regarded as the next chapter in Nissan’s headlong charge towards an electrified future, following hot on the heels of the launch of the new Nissan Ariya 100% electric crossover and the Nissan Qashqai mild hybrid.

Seamus Morgan, managing director of Nissan Ireland, said at the launch the carmaker was thrilled to accelerate the expansion of the company’s electrified line-up and to provide the growing number of Irish motorists making the switch to electric driving “with the best choice of electric, hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles on the market”.

The latest Juke Hybrid is an attempt to rewrite the rules in its segment as it starts in 100% electric mode and can reach speeds of up to 55km/h in pure EV mode thanks to an advanced multi-modal hybrid powertrain.

We were told by Matthew Ewing, vice-president of vehicle engineering and project management chief at Nissan, that the new powertrain has been specially designed to complement the personality of the Juke. The sporty coupé crossover design remains with just some small changes carried out to optimise aerodynamic efficiency.

It’s different to some traditional hybrids because of their complex amalgamation of ICE (internal combustion engine) and battery power, but the Juke Hybrid’s intelligent drive system has been tuned to maximise the amount of time the crossover spends in EV mode.

While the system will automatically maximise EV usage, the crossover is also equipped with a dedicated EV mode switch which can be used when drivers do not want to leave the engine running, such as in traffic jams, in residential areas or, for example, in built-up areas around schools or in car parks.

The Juke Hybrid powertrain consists of a new generation, 1.6 litre petrol engine that has been specifically developed for working in a hybrid powertrain application. It produces 94hp and 148Nm of torque.

The main electric motor produces 36kW (49hp) and 205Nm of torque. The net result, according to Nissan, is having a powertrain that provides 25% more power than the current petrol engine option, with a fuel consumption reduction up to 40% in the urban cycle and up to 20% over the combined cycle.

As with the 100% electric Nissan Leaf, the Juke Hybrid is equipped with Nissan’s e-Pedal. This marvellous piece of technology enables the driver to launch, accelerate and decelerate using only the accelerator.

A 7” combimeter screen displays visual reminders when the e-Pedal and EV mode are activated. It also shows all the different energy flows in a simple and clear animation to allow the driver understand how the system is operating.

While the Juke hybrid’s boot space is reduced from 422 litres to 354 litres with the rear seats upright, with them folded boot space remains the best in class with 1,237 litres, while rear knee room remains unchanged at 553mm.

Nissan has also introduced new two-tone 17” alloy wheels as well as the Nissan Ariya-derived two-tone 19” aero wheels for visual impact and efficiency.

Driving the Juke Hybrid from Luton to Milton Keynes and back on a wide selection of roads and motorways and around more roundabouts than I’ve ever seen on such a relatively short drive, my fondness for this small SUV/crossover grew by the mile.

Parking Sport mode and with both myself and my co-driver using Standard and Eco modes, this well-built new Nissan returned 5.6 l/100km easily - or as it said on the display, 50mpg.

I found that, like with so many hybrid cars, road ramps must be approached with extra care because of the battery’s extra weight. The latest version weighs in 66 kilos more than the present model. Nonetheless, the engine, coupled with a smart automatic transmission, made the driving refined and easy.

According to the Irish Nissan MD, 75% of Nissan Ireland’s sales mix will be fully electric by 2023.

Pricing for the new Nissan Juke Hybrid will be announced later this summer.