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Why crossovers are cool

14.03.2016

I was never a fan of crossover vehicles. I found them to be created by manufacturers to fill a gap that was created by the same companies that built them.

Well, after spending some time with our Nissan Juke long-term test car I can honestly say that I fully get the appeal of a crossover. Let me explain what I mean…

The crossover is intended to get customers out of a hatchback and into an SUV. Now going from a small hatchback into a big SUV can be somewhat of a task for some people, hence the ‘crossover.’ Unfortunately I found one slight flaw in the plan and that is, the crossover, as a concept is so good, why would you want to go bigger?

Take our Juke for instance. It’s in no way a big car yet it offers more space than your average hatchback and even more when you lower the rear seats. At one point I even used the Juke to help a friend move. We managed to load quite a bit of things into the car; what’s more, the materials used inside the car are fairly durable. This was put to the test when I played pit crew for another friend who has just taken up motorcross. I managed to fit motorbike tyres and tool boxes into the car as well as all of our much-needed food and drinks.

Something else that impresses me is the fact that crossovers are generally higher off the ground than most hatchbacks. This was a plus point in the Juke as the motorcross track was on a farm, which meant that we had to drive on a rather bad gravel road to get to it. It had also rained the night before so it was muddy. Yes, we passed some hatchbacks making the same commute but it was clear to see that they were struggling. The Juke proved to be a tough little companion, doing what was required.

Now most of you might not need to drive out to a farm; you spend your days roaming the back roads of your suburb, the neglected, pothole-ridden ones. This is where the Juke and the crossover concept come in handy. They seem to be able to handle uneven road surfaces better than smaller cars, and even better than sedans. They also tend to skip over speed humps without issue.

On the highway I found the Juke to be surprisingly comfortable; it returned a smooth and fuss-free drive. Its little 85kW/190Nm 1.2-litre turbocharged motor sips on fuel meaning that you won’t need to visit the pumps as often as those who drive big SUVs and bakkies.

If I had to find fault it would be that the issue of turbo-lag tends to bother me. You really need to build the revs before pulling away from a stop. That said though the Juke does have various driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. Each mode alters the throttle response. In town I found that Sport was better suited as it gave the car a bit more zest to deal with traffic situations. I also don’t find the Juke a particularly good-looking car. Yes it is funky and unique but I prefer subtle design. One thing I did notice is that there are many Jukes on our roads; they are popular.

So after spending four months and about 4 000km with our Juke I now get why it and other crossovers are so popular. They offer more practicality than a conventional hatchback, they can be economical, they can deal with our bad roads and they are not as intimidating to drive as an SUV. They are also cheaper to maintain and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg to purchase.

If you own a hatchback and want to upsize, consider a Juke or a crossover or even if you want to downsize from a big SUV, the crossover really does offer the best of both worlds.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
14.03.2016
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