Car group tests

Nissan Juke Nismo RS vs Ford Fiesta ST and Renault Clio RS 200

Can fiery Juke Nismo RS crossover rival traditional pocket rockets from Ford and Renault?

The traditional hot hatchback formula has changed considerably over the past few years. High-revving, naturally aspirated engines have been getting the chop in favour of smaller, turbocharged units designed to help save the planet – and your wallet.

Best hot hatchbacks

This change has coincided with the growth of the compact crossover and, as a result, there’s now a new class of small, performance-focused machinery emerging, combining power with practicality and the dash of extra character that a supermini-SUV brings.

Chief among these new challengers is the Nissan Juke Nismo RS. Boasting a tuned 215bhp version of the regular car’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, it’s spoiling for a fight, offering an alternative take on usable, fast and affordable options in the form of the Ford Fiesta ST and Renault Clio RS. The question is, can the Juke deliver similar driving thrills?

Nissan Juke Nismo RS review

Renaultsport Clio 200 review

Ford Fiesta ST review

Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to find out which hot hatch comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Badge battle

Renaultsport has a rich legacy of tuning everyday hatchbacks, taking Renault’s regular offerings and spicing them up with more power and tweaked suspension. 

Founded in 1976, the French tuning arm takes building hot hatches so seriously that it even separates the production line for its most potent vehicles, with modern RS products being screwed together in a different factory in Dieppe, northern France. 

With close links to Renault’s motorsport activities, there’s plenty of F1-inspired technology included on its cars, such as the current Clio RS’s front blade, paddleshift gearbox and diffuser-style rear bumper.

By comparison, Ford’s ST boot badge is much younger. It stands for ‘Sports Technology’ and was originally conceived as a sub-brand to sit underneath the company’s hardcore RS models. 

Now, with Ford uniting all of its hot road car operations under one roof – called ‘Ford Performance’ – ST is considered the lesser of three technology groups. It means we could see an even faster Fiesta RS featuring four-wheel drive and more power in the future.

Although the Nismo brand has a limited history in Europe, it’s been around for a while in Japan. Nissan Motorsports (hence Nismo) was started in the mid eighties and originally built race cars – only later did it branch out into tuning road models. 

However, with increasing demand for added performance and style, Nissan has remarketed the Nismo brand as its range-topping performance line-up.

Verdict

1st place: Ford Fiesta ST

The way the Fiesta ST drives is enough to win this test alone, but the cheapest price tag here and generous standard kit make it an easy victory. Its explosive performance and tenacious chassis are superb, yet the fuel economy is acceptable and residual values are brilliant. The Ford shines brightest as a performance car and is the most civilised on the road, too.

2nd place: Renault Clio RS200

In this company, the Clio RS feels flat. Its engine doesn’t deliver the highs of the Ford or the Nissan, and the lack of a manual box adds a filter between man and machine – frustrating in a hot hatch. Even with the optional Cup pack, it can’t match the Fiesta ST’s grip and poise – although it feels more planted than the occasionally wayward Juke. It’s also the most practical car here.  

3rd place: Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Despite its sporting intentions, the Juke Nismo RS can’t quite compete with this pair of performance-focused superminis. The updates over the previous version have brought an improvement, but compared to the Ford and Renault, it feels synthetic and a bit contrived. This unconventional hot hatch’s appeal is in its blend of speed, style and everyday usability.

Key specs:

 Ford Fiesta ST-3Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo EDC Lux CupNissan Juke Nismo RS
On-the-road price/total as tested£19,395/£19,670£19,995/£22,240£21,650/£21,650
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£11,385/58.7%£9,158/45.8%£9,351/43.2%
Depreciation£8,010£10,837£12,299
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£818/£1,637£926/£1,851£1,199/£2,398
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£2,171/£3,618£2,171/£3,618£2,093/£3,489
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost30E/£382/E/£13029E/£376/F/£14520E/£351/G/£180
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£550 (3yrs)£299 (3yrs)£0 (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase3,982/2,489mm4,090/2,589mm4,165/2,530mm
Height/width1,495/1,709mm1,432/1,732mm1,565/1,765mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,596cc4cyl in-line/1,618cc4cyl in-line/1,618cc
Peak power180/5,700 bhp/rpm197/6,000 bhp/rpm215/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque290/1,500 Nm/rpm240/1,750 Nm/rpm280/3,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd auto/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/sealant45 litres/sealant 300/1,146 litres46 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)290/974 litres300/1,146 litred354/1,189 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,163/412kg/N/A1,204/507kg/N/A1,315/445/1,200kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.4 metres/N/A10.6 metres/0.71Cd10.7 metres/0.35Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr4yrs (100,000)/4yrs3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 (1yr)/73112,000 (2yrs)/15312,500 (1yr)/225
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.25th/27th15th/12th22nd/25th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars91/86/65/588/89/66/587/81/41/5
    
0-60/30-70mph7.8/6.3 secs7.1/6.3 secs7.9/5.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.0/4.3 secs3.3/4.4 secs3.3/5.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th5.4/7.2 secs6.4/8.7 secs5.9/7.9 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph139mph/2,600rpm143mph/2,600rpm137mph/2,900rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph50.8/37.5/9.2m47.6/35.6/9.0m52.4/38.0/10.0m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph65/47/65/74dB64/51/65/72dB59/42/64/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range27.0/5.9/285 miles27.0/5.9/267 miles28.0/6.2/283 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined35.8/58.9/47.9mpg34.9/55.4/44.8mpg29.4/49.6/39.2mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined7.9/13.0/10.5mpl7.7/12.2/9.9mpl6.5/10.9/8.6mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket242/138g/km/21%280/144g/km/21%233/165g/km/26%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£200/noSix/yes/£215/£250Six/yes/no/yes
Automatic box/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yesYes/yes/yes£2,100/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/part/yesYes/£1,250/£1,250*Yes/no/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£495/no/yes£495/no/yesYes/£900/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/£240/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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