Strong performance. Unique looks. Good reliability.
The Nissan Juke is a very unique vehicle. It started the breed of new crossovers and enjoyed a year or so of UK car sales all to itself. Over time, the Juke has become outdated and faces steep competition. As such, Nissan's latest edition, the Nismo, has brought something new to the party yet again; hot hatch rivaling performance figures.
The question is, is it worth it?
If you are in the market for a hot hatch, the Nissan Juke Nismo's playful looks are likely to appeal to you, with a chunky body kit and large, stylish alloy wheels.
This car has a new body kit and rear spoiler compared to the regular Juke, as well as black mirrors to let others know that you are not riding in any normal Juke (this is only noticeable on the white Juke). Unlike a hot hatch which sits low to the ground, though, the Juke is a crossover super mini and as such has a raised ride height more likened to a Land Rover Freelander. For this reason many hot hatch fans may discount the Nismo, but as you'll see below, it certainly drives like one...
As noted above, the Nissan Juke Nismo offers hot hatch rivaling performance figures. Just like the new Renault Clio RS, Ford Fiesta ST, Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Peugeot 208 GTI, the Nismo features a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that churns out 197 bhp and 184 lb /ft of torque. That places it firmly among those cars mentioned above in terms of straight line grunt.
In case you were thinking that those power figures are great but the Nismo is a big car so will be slower, think again. The Nismo will accelerate from 0 - 60 mph in 6.9 seconds , something confirmed by the motoring press, despite Nissans claims of a 0 - 62 mph time of 7.8 seconds. That makes it epically fast for what it is, and what's more the way it delivers its power is nothing short of excellent; above 4,000 rpm in any gear the Juke Nismo accelerates with real urge making motorway emerging and overtakes a breeze.
The engine even sounds great, too, although there's no cackles from the exhaust like you would get from a Corsa VXR. Handling is also very good, and the Nismo benefits from stiffer springs and dampers than a standard Juke, as well as 18-inch alloys and a revised steering set-up.
At speed, the Juke Nismo hold its own; 60 - 80 mph times are strong, and the ride is fantastic, perfectly combining sharp steering and comfort. There is a little bit of wind noise at 70 mph, but road noise is none existent.
Flat out, you'll hit 134 mph.
The regular Nissan Juke's interior is good, with solid materials and a well put together feel. The Nismo doesn't change anything in terms of layout and button arrangement, but there is darker trim on the transmission tunnel and centre stack, as well as the door panels. This oozes stealth, and if you were to get a solid black Nismo, you could squint your eyes and pretend you are driving the Batmobile.
One area of interest is the steering wheel; just like a supercar, it is trimmed with soft touch Alcantara, which aids grip and certainly feels that little bit special. The gear lever and gaiter are leather, and your eyes will likely be drawn to the Nismo's impressive 5.8-inch Nissan Connect system, which comes as standard in this car, and is bigger than you'll find in a regular Nissan Juke.
The driving position is excellent. As you'd expect, it's higher than your average hot hatch, but lower than what you'd expect from gazing at the Nismo from afar. Reaching all buttons and driver controls is easy, with steering wheel rake adjustment and a high level of seat adjustment. Overall, the interior is very good in the Nismo, and certainly on-par quality wise with a Fiesta ST or Peugeot 208 GTI.
Arriving at the pumps in a car like the Nismo is usually something one would dread. But, surprisingly, the Nissan Juke Nismo is fairly frugal. On a combined cycle you should see 40 mpg and around town the car will never dip below 35 mpg. That's not bad for what looks like a big car, with 197 bhp and a top speed of 134 mph.
Trim and equipment
Standard equipment for the Nismo is high. A reversing camera, keyless ignition with an engine-start button and the latest ‘Connect 2.0’ iteration of Nissan’s satellite navigation and communications system come as standard. This new system features a larger screen than the regular Juke (at 5.8-inches, no less) which is fantastic for bragging rights.
Other standard features include Bluetooth, climate control, cruise control, CD and MP3 / iPod connectivity, and a six speed speaker sound system.
All in all, the Juke is as well equipped car that can rival the equipment levels on a Renault Clio RS.
There is a lot to like about the Juke Nismo. The 2013 hot hatch race has officially gotten underway now with the Renault Clio RS, Ford Fiesta ST, Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Peugeot 208 GTI competing heavily against one another for sales. The Nissan Juke Nismo - perhaps inadvertently - is competing against these very cars, with comparable performance wrapped up in a completely different package.
If you have had hot hatches for years, then the Nissan Juke Nismo could prove to be an excellent change for you. It offers good equipment, a quality interior, and very unique styling.
As it stands, though, it can't quite match the cars above for driving appeal.