Tested: Nissan Juke Ideal Urban Car-Share

All sorts of peer-to-peer car-share ‘clubs’ are popping up in urban environments around the world.

That’s hardly surprising to a city dweller such as myself because urban mobility will, as often as not, be restricted to public transport or two-wheeled motorcycles or bicycles that can avoid the bulk of the stress and hold-ups of car-clogged streets. People who do own cars, will usually use them only for trips out of town or where bulky items bought online, particularly from private sellers, are easier to pick up in a car than lugging them on and off buses or trains.

So these car owners get to earn some money from their assets standing idle in the streets most of their life by joining a car-share club that vets all participants to keep the vehicles safe. Those owners now have a compact crossover that adds a new level of security to a car-share thanks to the second generation Nissan Juke’s connectivity suite.

It’s chief claim to fame as a leading connected car is that its system will give the owner a full analysis of how, where and at what speeds the car was used during a car-share booking. In this way the owner can at least alert the club to an abuser of the club’s conditions or even have pre-agreed surcharges if speed or geo-location limits were breached.

It’s the opening up of the definition of how were now own cars that has led to this innovation in the Juke, according to Nissan Europe’s senior manager navigation and connectivity, Chris Parker. During the UK press launch of the Juke, TU-Automotive had the chance to find out more from Parker who said: “Most things happening right now involve the building blocks towards autonomous driving and as the vehicle gets more connected there’s more we can do with the car and how it can communicate to the infrastructure. The other big shift is more about car-sharing so enabling a change is customers’ behavior from the traditional model of ownership to a vehicle they can use to share rather than it just sat in a car park being dormant.”

While many customers will use the connectivity capabilities in many different ways, car-sharing makes a lot of sense for a vehicle like the Juke. Parker added: “A lot of the philosophy is parent/teenager but it could be used just as well for car-sharing. You can set the boundaries and you get the infringement notified back to you.”

However, as a car, is the new Juke up to the task of being a car-share hero? Well I enjoyed a quick blast through the Bedfordshire countryside in the Nissan Juke 1.0-liter DIG-T N-Connecta gasoline model. Right from the start it looks well protected from bumps and bruises on city streets with plastic guards around the wheel arches and door trims.

Inside the cabin comes in a choice of personalized colors but all looks solid and able to take a life with multiple users. On the road it’s surprisingly nippy with a healthy 115bhp, from the little four-pot, double-overhead cam, four-valves per cylinder turbo charged engine able to hit 60mph from standstill in 10 seconds when selecting the sports driving mode. Much of its liveliness comes from a beefy 148ft-lbs of torque when the engine’s temporary overboost is activated for those important overtakes.

The ride may be on the firm side for some but it adds to the robust feel of the car and reinforces an agility that gets the steering wheel message to the front wheels as fast as some much more sports orientated cars. Internal space has also been increased over the first Juke with the new car boasting 422-liters of luggage space swelling to 1,305-liters with the rear seats folded – a big pull for any potential car-share customer.

ADAS features as standard include: intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian and cycling recognition, lane change intervention, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, cornering control, active ride control, automatic hazard signal and speed limiter. Yet this car is as much about connectivity in our digital age as running gear and the Juke doesn’t disappoint offering Apple Carplay + Google Android Auto, a 7-inch TFT Combi-meter screen plus a 8-inch touch screen display, connected services and WiFi, sat-nav with TomTom Traffic and Bluetooth to a six-speaker audio system. UK prices for the Juke N-Connecta start at £22,395 ($29,440) including taxes.

The Juke’s connectivity package will also evolve depending on customer use and demands, said Parker. He added: “Beyond our standard connectivity package, we have tailored packages, too, depending on the sort of functionality that people want. So, we have three years of free map updates for customers. However, as things are evolving it will be interesting in term of connectivity and how we will use that technology. We are always trying to provide additional functionality and more convenience. Here, the typical example would be remote locking/unlocking, remote status checks, etc. Yet, we don’t want to put technology in for the sake of it but to make it useful to the owner.”

So, with connectivity updating to consumer demand, surrounded in a robust package likely to cope well with the urban jungle, the Juke makes a good case as a car-share product that can earn its owner money when others sit idle on the curbside.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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