We really have to take our hats off to Nissan for bringing the wacky Qazana concept (shown here last year) to production as the Juke without watering it down much. As a younger sibling to the Qashqai crossover, the Juke is meant to be an alternative to the B-segment supermini class, just like how the Qashqai tempted many Golf/Focus to opt for something less conventional.

And it’s not just the looks that stand out, for the Juke has surprisingly advanced mechanicals when Nissan could have got away relying on just the funky styling. Three engines will be available when European sales start later this year: a 1.5 diesel and two 1.6-litre petrol units, all Euro 5 compliant. The range topping engine is a new turbocharged petrol engine with direct injection, producing 187 bhp and 240 Nm. Nissan claims “performance from a 2.5-litre engine with the economy of a smaller engine”.

The other petrol unit is the HR16DE that Malaysian Latio and Grand Livina owners are familiar with. Improved for the Juke, the 1.6-litre engine gets a unique dual-injection system which allows finer metering of the fuel sprays for better combustion. Other changes include a larger exhaust manifold, retuned intake manifold, twin VTC, improved intake tumble flow and new catalyst with a hexagon cell formation. New pistons with revised crowns and integral oil jet cooling have been adopted along with low friction techniques such as diamond-like carbon coating on the valve lifters. With all those tweaks, vital figures now stand at 115 bhp and 157 Nm from 108 bhp/153 Nm, while fuel efficiency is claimed to be much improved. Petrol engines come with either a six-speed manual or Nissan’s Xtronic CVT.

The range topping turbo variant gets Nissan’s All-Mode 4X4-i electronic system with a new function – lateral torque vectoring capability. This not only splits torque between front and rear axles, but from side-to-side across the rear axle as well. The system counts wheel speed, steering angle, yaw rate and lateral G to distribute torque, and is effective in reducing understeer. In total, up to 50% of total available engine torque can be sent to either rear wheel. The rear axle incorporates electric couplings at either end plus a new final-drive. So now when your BMW X6 owner friend boasts about his torque vectoring system, share with him this piece of news.

I took the chance to sit in the Juke and found the rear quarters to be quite tight compared to superminis like the Honda Jazz and Perodua Myvi/Daihatsu Sirion. I fit in, but six footers are sure to brush their heads against the headlining. The driver enjoys a nice steering wheel with sporty instruments, while the climate control screen is a full-colour unit incorporating readouts such as fuel consumption. Pleasing design, but dash plastics are hard.

UPDATE: Fresh live pictures added to the gallery, including headroom shots that some have requested for.

More live pictures after the jump.

Nissan Juke live images from Geneva
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Nissan Juke official images
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