In 2010, Nissan broke the mould in the European automotive market with the introduction of the JUKE compact crossover. There was nothing on the market like it, with its bold, distinctive design, combining a sense of energy and sportiness to create a refreshing alternative to the traditional choices for customers at that time.
In the years that followed its introduction, sales vastly exceeded Nissan’s initial expectations. Despite the arrival of many competitors after it, the JUKE remained the reference in that segment of the market and sold over 1.5m by the time the second generation of JUKE arrived in October 2019.
The latest generation of JUKE retains a lot of the attributes that defined its predecessor, but elevates the formula, giving a premium, connected and engaged driving experience. Its distinctive personality is enhanced by a refined colour palette and more personalisation options, with 15 two-tone colour combinations. This includes its signature Fuji Sunset Red and the most popular two-tone combination, Pearl White with a black roof.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the radical, pioneering JUKE, the protagonists who played a key role in designing, plotting and developing it recall that process in their own words.
Chapter 1: A bold entrance
“There were jaws all over the floor… Talk about a bold entrance.”
Alfonso Albaisa, VP Nissan Design Europe at that time, today Senior Vice President for Global Design, Nissan Motor Co Ltd.:
It was unprecedented. Looking outside our window, there was no reference for us to work from but creative seeds emerged rather quickly and powerfully right off the bat. We knew we wanted to create something fundamentally different and not just a smaller version of the QASHQAI.
To test the water of our selected design, we presented the Qazana concept car in 2009 and the reaction confirmed our instinct.
With the bold design, we were creating a new car culture for something untested. Witnessing the birth and evolution of this culture is what has been interesting. There was a rather high level of excitement and anticipation around exploring this unknown and the company was buoyant emotionally about this.
Emanuele Berlenghi, Regional Product Manager, JUKE, Nissan Europe at that time, today Product Marketing Director, Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co.:
The success of the QASHQAI in Europe had given Nissan in Europe the confidence to be bold in the direction of JUKE. We had more latitude to develop the product. That was the starting point. We said we should aim to replicate the success of the QASHQAI, but in the B-segment. But, we all agreed we should not do a simple replica. The whole challenge for the European team was to reinvent the idea and bring a new proposition to the market.
Lesley Busby, Colour Designer, Nissan Design Europe at that time, today Senior Colour Manager, Nissan Design Europe:
I remember looking at the Qazana concept car next to the Nissan QASHQAI – the car that launched the crossover segment. The QASHQAI looked fresh, but the Qazana Concept was so striking and different.
Matthew Weaver, Senior Exterior Designer, Nissan Design Europe at that time, today Vice President, Nissan Design Europe:
I distinctly recall the reception the Qazana Concept had at the 2009 Geneva International Motor Show. We told journalists we were going in a new direction – to expect the unexpected. They didn’t believe us.
In 2010, we revealed the production car to the world. There were jaws all over the floor. The Nissan JUKE had arrived, and it had made quite a statement.
Chapter 2: A blank canvas
“We couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities.”
Throughout the JUKE design process, using different sources of inspiration was key. I was on the train one day and remembered seeing a young man in a flat cap with a diamond skull on it, a bright t-shirt, a pinstripe jacket and trainers. It was an eclectic mix, but I thought: if people don’t have to conform, why should cars? Different is good, it stands out. That is exactly what we wanted to achieve with JUKE.
Jamie Maclean Marketability Engineer, Nissan Technical Centre Europe at that time, today Nismo Product Planning Senior Manager, Nissan Motor Limited:
Working with the product planning teams, we had a completely clean sheet of paper. We couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities! JUKE needed to be usable like a hatchback, but exciting to drive like a sports car.
Chapter 3: A distinctive design
“Nissan has an appetite to explore the boundaries, so we wanted to do something radical with JUKE.”
Nissan has an appetite to explore the boundaries, so we wanted to do something radical with JUKE. The central console, for instance was styled to emulate a motorcycle fuel tank, so its shape and colour exuded a sense of sportiness and excitement. There is never usually that confluence of worlds, but we needed to explore – to get out of our comfort zone.
Somebody once said that the purpose of car design is to use the minimum number of lines possible to create the physical form. The challenge for us was to formulate a design that was functional, but also engaging.
As a result, everything about the JUKE is eye-catching and different – but it all had a purpose. For example there is a single line that starts as the front corner of the car, and grows to become the wheel arch. It then flows into the body side highlight where it becomes the rear wheel arch.It’s the details like this that gave the JUKE bold form and made it inherently functional.
Chapter 4: A challenging concept
“The JUKE was such a different concept for all of us, the journey was never going to be easy.”
One of the biggest challenges was trying to get the JUKE’s dynamics, handling and ride to match the sporty styling. We started this process in June 2006. We brought a variety of different cars together – from hatchbacks to sports cars – and tested them to figure out what character we wanted to achieve.
The JUKE was such a different concept for all of us, the journey was never going to be easy. Every team experienced challenges, but by sharing our ideas and passions with each other, we developed a clear vision of what the outcome should be. It was that sense of energy that allowed the final concept to be so successful.
JUKE was full-on, but everyone wanted to live that. There was a real excitement and determination from across the team to make JUKE something epic. People wanted to believe that we could get all the design features – even the unusual centre console – through to production and hang on to all the cool stuff. This was the biggest challenge for us and resulted in several tough negotiations.
Several years into its lifecycle, Nissan pushed the traditional boundaries of the compact crossover formula with the introduction of the JUKE Nismo, an overtly sporty version. And then, the ultimate JUKE, equipped with the 550PS powertrain from Nissan’s legendary GT-R supercar came to life.
Chapter 5: An ambitious project
“We’d already changed people’s expectations with JUKE, but it was JUKE Nismo and JUKE-R that really pushed the boundaries.”
We were inherently bold with our approach for the JUKE concept. It had a distinctive personality and sense of energy. We wanted to go further and create something special with an exciting twist. The JUKE Nismo performance version in 2013 was the result, which we then took an extra level with the JUKE Nismo RS in 2014.
It was such an exciting project; everything from the uprated performance, to the enhanced sporty stance on the road and the tuning changes – it was something never seen before on a crossover before.
Satoru Tai, Vice President Nissan Design Europe at that time, today Executive Design Director, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.:
If we exceeded people’s expectations with the JUKE Nismo, they were blown away by what we did with the JUKE-R. At Nissan Design Europe, we felt that our job was to do something completely different – to completely exceed people’s expectations, both in Europe and even with our colleagues in Japan. With JUKE-R we put the GT-R engine and handling components into a performance-optimised JUKE body.
It was an incredible design challenge, to combine those two worlds, but we produced a head-turning crossover with supercar performance.
Chapter 6: An exciting future
“The JUKE is original in every sense of the word. Nissan is very good at doing ‘original’ – so we have every intention to keep on doing it.”
What does JUKE mean to us? It means passion. There are lots of passionate people at Nissan, and we all have a passion to do something different. From its bold design to its pioneering spirit in creating the B-SUV segment, the JUKE is original in every sense of the word. Nissan is very good at doing ‘original’ – so we have every intention to keep on doing it.
Marco Fioravanti, Vice President, Product Planning, Nissan Automotive Europe
Following the success of the first JUKE, we knew the second-generation JUKE needed to elevate the boldness and the customer experience even more.
We worked hard to retain the same pioneering energy, but evolve it to be more ‘grown up’. It’s just as distinctive, but it’s more spacious, offers the advanced NissanConnect infotainment system and has a high-quality feel. It also has advanced driving assistance technology like ProPILOT. The JUKE is a modern Nissan in every respect, and it has gone from strength to strength.
As we approach the anniversary of its unveil, I see more and more new JUKEs on the roads and I love the variety of two-tone colour options customers are choosing. This is daily evidence that customers have embraced the second-generation JUKE with the enthusiasm that was the key to the success of the first-generation JUKE. I strongly believe JUKE is an automotive icon. It epitomises the passion we have in Nissan.