I had seen the Nissan Juke during its launch last year, but it was on a stage and from a distance. Now I’m looking at it up close, in a searing yellow color. I’m starting to like it. With a crew of videographers, I’m about to take this spunky crossover all the way to a surfing resort in La Union, almost 200km from our kickoff point at Nissan North EDSA.
On the calm stretches of NLEX and SCTEX, the Juke reveals itself to be a steady cruiser. The body doesn’t squeak or rattle, and barely legal expressway speeds don’t tax the 1.6-liter mill too much. But our stability could be due to our fully loaded condition. We’re four adults and overnight gear in the cabin, and the 114hp engine wails in protest whenever we attempt a fast overtake.
Our lunch stop does nothing to alleviate our weight. At the delicious Makkan Ilocano restaurant, we load up on delicious bulalo, dinuguan and quail adobo, paired with heapings of soft rice. I already imagine fighting sleepiness because of a full stomach on the last stretch to the resort.
Thankfully, we are past the new TPLEX at this point, and the roads become busier with tricycles and buses. This lets me discover that the Juke is a nimble crossover, with a chassis that is comfortable doing quick maneuvers. When we run over bad surfaces on the national highway, this Nissan also does a good job of absorbing the bumps and ruts. This is a crucial feature when it comes to being driven on Philippine streets.
It’s a hot day, and I can feel the sun begin to burn my exposed arms under the windshield. But Nissan’s legendary air-conditioning keeps the cabin temperature glacial, and there are even a few requests from the rear passengers for the A/C to be dialed down.
I suspect part of the reason the cabin is so easy to cool is that it’s rather small. The Juke’s sloping rear hatch may look cute, but it doesn’t do much for luggage space. However, I wouldn’t call it cramped; cozy might be a more appropriate word. The interior is wide but not very tall. With four people and overnight luggage–not to mention video gear–the space is just right, if not a little snug.
We finally arrive at the Kahuna Beach Resort & Spa by afternoon. It’s a classy little place with cabanas, an infinity pool and a beachfront full of La Union’s trademark waves. In fact, Nissan Philippines has brought along ace surfer Luke Landrigan for those who want to have a lesson in the morning.