Nissan Juke Nismo

12 Apr, 2013 5:45pm Jack Rix

We get behind the wheel of the hot new 197bhp Nissan Juke Nismo on British roads for the first time

Verdict

4
The Nismo is the best Juke we’ve driven so far – it may not be a match for hot hatches dynamically, but it’s bursting with character, is usable every day and offers something different. It’s also loaded with kit, so its sub-£20,000 price looks a good deal. As the first in a range of Nismo models – to include the 370Z, GT-R and even the Leaf – it bodes well.

A lot has changed since we drove the Nissan Juke Nismo in Spain in January. Not only has the car arrived in the UK, but three new performance superminis have also burst on to the scene: the Ford Fiesta ST, Renaultsport Clio and Peugeot 208 GTi. So if the 197bhp Juke is to make an impression here, it has some stiff competition to beat.

The high-riding Nissan isn’t exactly a direct rival for these three conventional models, but as it has a similar power output and footprint on the road, potential buyers are sure to consider it.

Nissan tuning arm Nismo has made sure the car grabs your attention. Our test model looked fantastic with its Storm White paint (it’s also available in black or silver), red wing mirrors and thin red pinstripes running around the bottom of the body.

Nissan has ditched the regular car’s circular vents in favour of an angular front bumper with LED lights. A lower rear bumper, bulging side skirts, a tailgate spoiler and 18-inch alloys round off the looks, and turned plenty of heads on our test drive.

The best work comes inside, though, where superb suede sports seats hold you firmly in place, without squeezing too hard, and the Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel feels sporty and expensive in your hands.

All these tweaks carry a £1,700 premium over the 187bhp 1.6 DiG-T Tekna model the Nismo is based on, and represent decent value on their own. But then there’s the increased power and tuned suspension to consider.

The turbo engine has only been tuned lightly, and delivers just 10bhp more, but even so it entertains with its slightly manic character once the turbocharger comes on boost.

Acceleration is strong and throttle response sharp – especially in Sport mode – but bursts of throttle are accompanied by a drone that never sounds that sporty.

To help tame the Juke’s natural tendency to roll through corners, Nissan’s stiffened the suspension by 10 per cent, but hasn’t lowered it in order to maintain the raised view of the road ahead. The result is that the Juke can’t hide its high centre of gravity in bends and rolls far more than a normal hot hatch. Even so, the ride is surprisingly supple – the newcomer glides over bumps and cracks where a Fiesta ST would shake like a leaf.

Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had, with strong brakes, quicker steering and just enough grip to carve neat lines through corners. Press on a bit, and it’s happy to spin up its inside front tyres and it scrabbles around for grip.

View it as a hot hatch, and the Juke Nismo predictably falls short of more dynamic rivals like the Renaultsport Clio. But approach it from another angle – as something that’s genuinely different and good fun to drive – and there’s plenty to like.

Disqus - noscript

In appearance, the automotive equivalent of a monkfish

I really like this. In fact, if I was spending 20k this would be on my list.

rivals?hehe Strong 9/10

When I first saw this car it was like biting a bitter almond but its looks have since been growing on me. I still can't stomach the lights cluster and the pinched front yet I must say that some angles are so full of character.

A the press launch in January, some journo's decided to drive like lunatics on the road between Castelldefels and Sitges. Overtaking on solid white lines causing oncoming traffic to take avoidance measures.
It was like watching a bunch of teenagers.

The circus music came into my head as soon as I looked at that thing.

what an amazing car

I was surprised this wasn't 4wd to give it an edge over its hot hatch rivals. If I was out to buy a hot hatch, I wouldn't be looking at this so they need to be offering something that the others don't. I've always thought the front lights are ugly on Juke and too many of their drivers want to drive with the front fog lights on all the time, I guess just in case you happen not to notice the array of standard lights on the car.

Sorry... I just can't stop laughing every time I look at it!! Cheered me up. Thanks Nissan.. thanks!!

Nissan do offer the juke nismo in awd but it's equip with cvt, no manual awd. So it's sadly a love it or hate it kind of move.

Key specs

  • Price: £19,995
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power/torque: 197bhp/250Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 134mph
  • Economy: 40.9mpg
  • CO2: 159g/km
  • Equipment: Alcantara steering wheel, 18-inch alloys, bodykit, LED daytime running lights, sports exhaust, suede sports seats
  • On sale: Now
AEX 1,339
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links