If everyone loves the Juke, Nissan's designers blew it

Nissan Juke: Polarizing design is part of crossover's appeal.

GENEVA -- Nissan designers have retained one of the brand's most polarizing designs -- and want to keep it looking different in the future.

The refreshed 2015 Juke compact crossover, which reaches U.S. dealers this year, keeps the original narrow and bulky look, says Shiro Nakamura, the automaker's top global design executive.

Nakamura says designers already are at work in London interpreting the next-generation look for the Juke, which is some years away. But he says Nissan believes the surprising sales success of the model is because of its appeal as a polarizing model. Nissan says it has sold 420,000 Jukes worldwide since 2010.

The refreshed version, with flashier lights in the front and rear, and more body cladding at the front and rear fenders, debuted at the Geneva auto show last week.

"You love it or you hate it," Andy Palmer, Nissan's chief planning officer, told reporters in Geneva. "You have your mainstream cars -- your Versa, Sentra and Altima. But you also need some outliers that really demonstrate the identity of the car company.

"Juke needs to describe what Nissan stands for, which is a little bit left field, a little bit different -- certainly not in the mode of other Japanese and Asian rivals."

Palmer said it was important to maintain the Juke's original sense of polarization. It has become the brand's highest conquest model, with 85 percent of its buyers migrating from other brands.

The vehicle gets a redesigned front grille to match what is now the signature Nissan V-shaped front. Designers also gave it 40 percent more luggage space.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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