Nissan Motor Co. hopes that its new Juke crossover will match the success it has enjoyed in Europe from its top-selling Qashqai.
The Juke debuts at the Geneva auto show next month and launched in Europe at the end of September. It was created by Nissan Design Europe in London to merge the ruggedness of an SUV with the looks and lines of a sports car.
"It's roomy yet compact, robust yet dynamic and practical yet playful. These are qualities that seem to contradict each other, yet come together in the Juke to create something that's genuinely unique," Pierre Loing, Nissan Europe vice president of product planning, said in a statement.
The Juke will be built in Nissan's factories in Oppama, Japan, and in Sunderland, northeast England. The Qashqai also is made in Sunderland, where a third shift was recently added to keep up with demand for the crossover.
Nissan also sells the Murano crossover Europe. The Japanese automaker switched to selling crossovers because it had little success marketing its sedans in Europe. The move has paid off as Nissan was able to boost sales in a weak European market by 9 percent to to 366,711 units last year, according to European automakers association, ACEA.
The Qashqai was Nissan's top-seller in Europe last year with a 25.4 percent rise in sales to 181,711 units, according to market researched JATO Dynamics.
The Juke will go on sale in Japan in the summer and North America in the autumn.
High hopes for Europe
Nissan aims to sell 140,000 to 150,000 Jukes a year.
"The main market for this car is Europe; we think we'll sell 60 percent to 70 percent of the vehicles here," Colin Dodge, Nissan executive vice president, told Reuters in an interview.
Nissan says the car is aimed at affluent male customers age 30 to 40.
Nissan has no plans to launch the Juke in China for the moment, Dodge said. "(China is) basically a 5-8 year-old market, so nobody's fed up with the same cars as they used to have. It's not as relevant yet, but maybe in 4-5 years time we'll need a completely different product to attract people who've had two to three cars."
The Juke will come with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The electronic all-wheel drive system now also features torque vectoring technology to enhance agility and reduce understeer when cornering.
In Europe, three different engines will be available: one diesel and two 1.6-liter gasoline units, all of which are Euro 5 compliant. The top engine is a new 190-hp turbocharged gasoline direct-injection unit. The combination of direct injection with a turbocharger provides the power and responses usually found in a 2.5-liter engine.
Reuters contributed to this report