Nissan Juke: On the wild tour

The gaze is directed to the front via the spherical housing of the auxiliary headlights. The tracks are visible in the ocher yellow of the desert sand. The sonorous, slightly snorkling sound of the 1.6-liter four-cylinder breaks through the constant pattering of rocks thrown up in the wheel arches. Welcome aboard the Juke Hybrid Rally Tribute!
Nissan actually made it happen and breathed life into its concept car. Because last year the off-road juke was only intended as a charming homage. Purely digital, but in rally design that Datsun 240Z that won the challenging East African Safari in 1971. And just before the 51st anniversary of this triumph, the Japanese sent us into the desert with the compact SUV.
Nissan Juke

The 94 hp of the 1.6 liter four-cylinder is pimped with a 49 hp electric drive and a starter generator (20 hp).

In the middle of Morocco, around the small town of Errachidia, not all deserts are the same: from pure sand to rocky sections, dunes and steppe with scrubby grass and barren trees, even the vast landscape is varied. Just like the drive portfolio should be. This summer, the Juke will be offered as a hybrid for the first time. Of course it is – how could it be otherwise – under the hood of the desert runabout.

145 hp system power

To get straight to the point: No, this car is neither a thoroughbred rally car nor built according to regulations. It is therefore also forgivable that the performance data is manageable: the petrol engine has 69 kW (94 hp) and delivers a maximum torque of 148 Newton meters. The electric motor with its maximum 205 Newton meters pimps that up significantly – with an output of 36 kW (49 hp). And the 15 kW (20 hp) starter generator also plays a part in the drive trio. That makes a combined 145 hp system output.

In the dusty nowhere you are fast enough with it. Attention is required. Deep furrows cross the path. Brake quickly. The needle of the round instrument next to the speedometer, which shows the power consumption and output of the hybrid system, dives deep into the “Charge” scale. At only 1.2 kilowatt hours, the comparatively small battery charges exclusively through recuperation. While the Rallye-Juke usually starts up electrically, the driver has no influence on when which motor is used. A multimodal transmission with four gears for the combustion engine and two “electric” gears is the hub of the drive.

Nissan Juke

Safety first: Reporter Martin Westerhoff in the cockpit of the Rally Juke.

The advantage of this transmission: It can switch between different hybrid types – serial, parallel or power-split. The transitions cannot be felt. Only heard when the combustion engine fails. In the production version, the Juke Hybrid consumes around 40 percent less fuel in urban areas and up to 20 percent less in combined transport than the 1.0-liter petrol engine with 84 kW (114 hp). Combined, that would correspond to exactly four liters per 100 kilometers.

Juke pays homage to his rally ancestor

How much do we use offroad? We haven’t checked. The deep-treaded 265/70 R 16 tires alone do the rest to increase rolling resistance. The cult rally offshoot needs this in addition to significantly more suspension travel in order to be able to go on this terrain. Despite the beefy appearance, it also shares the front-wheel drive with the production version – which quickly reaches its limits in deep sand. For that reason alone, this car remains what it is: a homage to its rally ancestor. And a harbinger of its serial brother, the Nissan Juke with hybrid drive.

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