With SUVs so popular nowadays as they make sense, with a few exceptions they aren’t especially exciting to drive. So it was great to be able to spend a week behind the spritely little Nissan Juke Nismo RS.
Although Juke is officially listed as an SUV in Australia it looks like, and performs like, what used to be called a hot hatch. Hot SUV? No, it just doesn’t sounds right.
The name Nismo is an abbreviation of Nissan Motorsport International Limited and is the in-house tuning, motorsports and performance division of Nissan. While Nismo’s core business is motorsport much of the technical improvements from its racing experience such as upgraded engine performance, handling and aerodynamics gets passed down and used in the production of enhanced versions of Nissan street cars.
These include the three Nismo models that are currently on sale in Australia: GT-R, 370Z and Juke.
With its red highlights including the side mirrors and large 18-inch wheels with red-painted brake calipers it really is a head-turner out on the road. There’s also an aero body package with more aggressive front and rear bumpers, as well as side skirts and roof spoiler and a rear diffuser.
Inside it’s not quite so inspiring with a fairly dated styling although there are Nismo specifics features such as the well-bolstered suede sports seats with red stitching, Alcantara steering wheel with red stitching and leather-accented shift knob. There’s also a Nismo RS push button engine start, a red Nismo tachometer and Nismo branded front kick plates and carpet mats.
Nissan Juke Nismo RS comes with a choice of three colours: Pearl, Pearl Black and Platinum.
ENGINE / TRANMISSION
Juke Nismo RS is powered by the same 1.6-litre turbocharged high-pressure direct-injection petrol engine used in the standard Nissan Juke but retuned up by 20kW and 40 Nm to 160kW of power and 280Nm of torque for the six-speed manual.
The CVT automatic tops out at 157kW of power and 250Nm of torque, up by 17kW and 10 Nm.
These improvements round up to around 15 percent have been achieved by optimising the engine control unit (ECU) settings and using a revised exhaust system with a larger main tune diameter and revised baffling.
The engine’s connecting rod durability has also been improved for use with higher torque settings on the manual transmission, along with a strengthened clutch cover and dual mass flywheel.
Juke Nismo RS manual has a shorter final drive ratio for harder acceleration. A limited slip differential directs more power to the front wheel with the most traction to maintain acceleration during cornering.
The CVT Nissan Xtronic system has eight-step gearing, up from the six-step standard system.
Our test car was the Juke Nismo manual which comes with front-wheel drive rather than the CVT version which gets AWD.
The bulked-up Alcantra leather steering leather and slick gear levers makes sure that you change gears more often than you really need to but that’s all part of the fun.
Despite the extra height and bulk the Nismo handles almost as well as a typical sporty hatchback.
The body and chassis reinforcements that have been added to the Nismo over the standard Juke have given it a noticeable improvement to its rigidity, steering precision and response.
Juke’s styling has always divided opinions but, if like us, you’re a fan and if you enjoy driving and making your own gear-changing decisions then get down to your local Nissan dealer and take this great little SUV for a spin.
AT A GLANCE
Nissan Juke Nismo RS 1.6-litre 2WD five-door wagon: $37,790 (manual)
Nissan Juke Nismo RS 1.6-litre AWD five-door wagon: $41,490 (CVT automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Juke Nismo RS 1.6-litre five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.618 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 157 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 2400 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.3 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 172 g/km
DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4135 mm
Wheelbase: 2530 mm
Width: 1765 mm
Height: 1565 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1390 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 kilometres