Mini Countryman vs. Nissan Juke

The November 2010 issue of Motor Trend magazine has an article in which they perform a Mini Countryman vs. Nissan Juke comparison test. Both the Countryman and Juke are brand new models that recently went on sale in the U.S. These models have created a new market segment, which some have called compact sports activity vehicles, or “cute-utes”. They offer a higher driving position than sport hatchbacks with all-wheel drive capability, turbo-powered engines, and four doors.

The Countryman is Mini’s largest model ever sold. It is also its first modern Mini to offer four regular doors and all-wheel drive. Mini, which is owned by BMW, is having the Countryman assembled by Magna Steyr in Austria. It is the first Mini model to be assembled outside of the United Kingdom.

The Juke adds to Nissan’s available U.S. SUV models, which includes the Armada, Murano, Pathfinder, Xterra, and Rogue. It is assembled in Japan.

The Countryman is offered in base and S trim lines, as with other Mini models. The Countryman adds Valvetronic throttle-less injection to the S engine, a turbocharged 1.6- liter four-cylinder power plant producing 181 horsepower. The base Countryman is offered with a normally aspirated 1.6 liter, 121 horsepower engine. Both models offer either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

The Juke, on the other hands is offered with only one engine choice, a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter turbocharged engine producing 188 horsepower. The Juke has a base six-speed manual transmission and a CVT with six virtual ratios. The Juke has a base six-speed manual transmission and a CVT with six virtual ratios. Both the Countryman and Juke in turbocharged form have 0-60 times of about 8.4 seconds. The manual transmission is slightly faster than the automatic in the Mini. The base 121-horsepower Countryman has a 0-60 time of about 11 seconds.

The all-wheel drive system adds 130 pounds to the weight of the Countryman and lessens the model’s performance and handling relative to other Mini models. In fact, Motor Trend was disappointed with the Countryman’s handling, noting disconcerting body roll and under steer in fast cornering. Mini’s are normally known for their highly responsive, go-kart like handling. Motor Trend called the Juke far more agile with a better handle on canceling under steer.

The Mini has superior fuel economy. The Juke’s fuel economy is estimated at 25-mpg city/30-mpg highway and the Mini’s is expected to be a couple miles per hour better on the highway. The manual transmission Mini offers the best economy. Neither of these comparably sized models offer much in the way of utility with modest cargo space. The Mini has a more spacious interior, nearly comparable to the Juke’s bigger brother, the Nissan Rogue. The Juke’s cargo room, with its curved rear end, is comparable to the Nissan Versa hatchback.

Styling of the two models is quite divergent. The Countryman has classic Mini style where as the Juke styling is definitely distinctive. However, its multi-eyed face, huge wheel housings, and curvy lines may be polarizing.

Ultimately, Motor Trend, which is geared towards enthusiast drivers, chose the Juke over the Countryman calling the it “freakishly fun on the streets” and “Fun, feature-laden, and bold”. They summed up their thoughts on the Countryman by stating, “Looks like a Mini. Doesn’t drive like one.” In their evaluation rating, the Juke was awarded four out of five stars with the Countryman receiving 3.5 stars.

The 2011 Mini Countryman and 2011 Nissan Juke are for buyers who want sporty performance, a higher driving position, and all-wheel drive performance for under $30,000. The Juke in all-wheel drive form costs about $25,000, whereas the Mini easily reaches $30,000 in the S trim with ALL4. Ultimately, the winner of the Mini Countryman vs. Nissan Juke contest will be won by how the public responds to these two respective new models. Prospective buyers may also want to consider the upcoming turbo-powered four-cylinder 2011 Kia Sportage, which is expected to output more than 250 horsepower.

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