The Road Ahead : February March 2014
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 48 MOTORING | ROAD TEST THE ROAD AHEAD FEB/MAR 2014 There are some points of difference: Juke has climate- control (the others, standard airconditioning), but misses out on steering reach adjustment, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. Trax is the only one with a full-size spare wheel. Special mention should be made of the Holden's MYLink infotainment system, which comes with a seven-inch touch screen and embedded apps such as Pandora, Stitcher, SmartRadio, TuneIn and BringGo navigation. There is also voice control. DESIGN AND FUNCTION Each scores a five (out of five) star safety rating (ANCAP in the case of the Holden and Nissan, EuroNCAP for the Peugeot). In terms of environmental ratings, the French car gets five (out of five) stars in the Federal Government's Green Vehicle Guide, half a star better than Trax and one up on Juke. The seating is no frills -- but par for course in this segment -- being cloth with no seat cushion tilt or lumbar, just height, slide and back rest adjustment. All three cars do an acceptable job of accommodating their driver in reasonable comfort, though. After a day behind the wheel in above 40-degree weather, over a diversity of road surfaces and conditions, none of the testers reported any major discomfort. By our standard measurements, Trax is superior in front headroom and seat travel, ditto rear head and seat cushion length. Juke is best for front leg room and seat cushion length, along with rear knee room, but is restrictive in rear headroom. And the 2008 is tightest in all front measurements, but comes out on top for rear bench width. Car makers measure cargo space in litres. Using this methodology, 2008 offers up the best capacity with 410 litres (with rear seats in place) and 1400 litres (with seats folded and measured to the roofline). Both numbers pip Trax (356 and 1370) and are way ahead of Juke (251 and 830). The Juke, though, does have a large, lift-out storage tray under the cargo floor that is handy for oddments. Build and finish quality favours the Peugeot, ahead of the Nissan, particularly throughout the interior. The Holden had too much hard plastic for our liking, along with an annoying rattle around the right front door. ON THE ROAD That old adage, 'There ain't no substitute for horsepower', didn't exactly ring true in our testing. Trax might boast the highest power output (and best power-to-weight figure), but it was pipped by Juke in all straight line and roll-on acceleration tests, bar from 50-80km/h (in third gear). We're talking one or two-tenths of a second, except from 0-100km/h where the Nissan pulled a sizeable half-second clear of the Holden. The latter seems most at home cruising the highway, pulling 2700rpm at a steady 100km/h, some 300rpm lower than the Nissan at the same speed. With its comparatively diminutive three-cylinder engine putting out 60kW, 2008 trailed by sizeable margin whenever the hammer went down. Hilly driving is not its forte. Around town, when the going is level, is where it gives its best by way of a smooth and flowing drive. We had no complaint about any of the five-speed transmissions. But our pick was the Nissan, which had the better weighted clutch action and slightly shorter gear shift 'throws'. European suspension settings are often too firm for our typical backblock roads, but 2008 impressed in the way it handled the creases and corrugations. Overall, its ride quality surpassed that of Juke (stiffer) and Trax (not as composed). The French car also showed itself to be the best handler, feeling more like a light or small car than SUV with its agility and lightness. Grip levels are good, with very little body roll and negligible tyre squeal. And the steering is communicative, if a tad too quick on initial turn-in. Juke is not as convincing when interrogated as to its limits, particularly by way of front end grip. The steering is reasonably weighted, but could offer up more feel for the road. It's a step ahead of Trax, though. On straight ahead, IMAGES: PEUGEOT 2008 ACTIVE.