The problem with SUVs… Okay, one of the problems with SUVs is that they tend to be quite boring. Some are fun to drive, but never as fun as a real car, while others just know some interior tricks that make life a little more bearable. The Nissan Juke radiated a rare dose of style, but unfortunately had little to offer in terms of content. If he had been human, he would be one of those people who wears a motorcycle jacket without owning a motorcycle.
But this wasn’t always the plan
When Nissan’s earlier designers sketched out their feverish dreams of a glorious future, they came up with the Nissan Judo, which appeared at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show. Apparently no one had told Nissan that judo means ‘the soft road’, because this car had hit the market mercilessly.
Nissan simply described its creation as ‘an all-terrain vehicle with luggage space’ – very refreshing, given that marketers these days just don’t promise you that an electric city car is a cure for cancer. There was so much going on with this SUV/pickup/roadster/coupé that there had to be something that appealed to you. The lovely telephone wheels, for example, or those headlights with a little Alpine A110 and a dash of Ford RS200. This is probably also where Pixar got their inspiration for the aliens inar Toy Story.
The roof of the Nissan Judo can open
Best of all was the wacky hardtop, which slid back for a vast open world of fun. Yes, this is the car the Skoda Felicia Fun would have loved to be. The luggage compartment was also exciting, with side-opening flaps and a spare wheel that swung out of the rear bumper. It even had a winch hidden inside. The Judo was certainly not a poseur for the supermarket parking lot.
The interior of the Nissan Judo is one big mass of gray plastic, just like most cars of the era. It’s minimalistic, except for the radio and ventilation controls in a square slab in the middle of the dashboard. The one-piece corduroy chairs make us happy. What a wonderful place to be, with your roof back and the sun on your bare crown.
Specifications Nissan Judo
The Nissan Judo had the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder from the Cedric and Gloria – that sounds like an award-winning ballroom dance couple from the 1980s, but they’re just two sedans Nissan made back then. 210 hp and 265 Nm were sent to all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. The Judo delivered what its styling promised.
If it was sold through well-known shopping websites, there would be a row of links underneath. “People who viewed this car also bought: Suzuki X-90, Toyota RAV4, Land Rover Freelander 3-door.” But those bad boys didn’t come on the market until 1994, and Nissan’s own Juke, after all, a kind of successor to the intended throne of this Judo, even made its entrance in 2010. The original could have been a real pioneer, but instead That left us with its shiny, underachieving millennial cousin.