Can the pumped up and jacked up Nissan Juke Nismo really compete against the conventional hot hatch?
It’s an interesting recipe. Hot hatch performance, jacked up ride and sporting credentials all wrapped in an aggressive and stylish exterior. The folks at Nissan have handed the Juke to their tuning department Nismo, to see if they can turn this family friendly crossover into a hot hatch rival. The Juke will be the first Nismo-badged road car for the European market.
Based on the 1.6-litre DiG-T Tekna model, the Juke Nismo boasts an uprated 1.6-litre turbocharged engine producing 197BHP and is able to hit 134mph. Sports suspension and stiffer springs contribute to the transformation and the boisterous body-kit isn’t just a cosmetic addition. Featuring lower front and rear bumpers, wider wings and sill side skirts, and a modified grille and rear spoiler the aerodynamically modified body-kit helps to reduce front and rear end lift without increasing drag.
Exterior features such as the 18in Nismo wheels, Nismo badging as well as the red door mirrors and LED day time running lights will help you to distinguish the Juke Nismo from the rest of the pack.
The interior is awash with suede and red stitching. The Nismo sport seats are draped in suede and hold you firmly in place when the going gets twisty. The Alcantara and leather sports steering wheel is a perfect fit and thankfully does without the flat-bottomed nonsense.
On the surface the Juke Nismo may not seem worth the £1,700 premium you’ll pay for it over the DiG-T Tekna it’s based on. The visual and mechanical upgrades as well as the 10BHP increase will cost you £19,995. But it’s once you’re behind the wheel where the Juke Nismo starts to make sense.
The jacked up ride offers brilliant visibility and combined with the purposeful headlight design which enables you to see the tops of the headlights from the driving position, you are able to put the Juke Nismo exactly where you want it in the corners. And when it’s there, boy does it stick.
The stiffer springs fitted to the Nismo help it to counteract its natural tendency to roll in the bends due to the elevated ride height. I tested the front wheel drive manual version and it showed no sign of uncomfortable understeer or reluctance when I really pressed on. I drove the car on velvet smooth tarmac at the SMMT test day at Millbrook so can’t say too much for ride quality, but over some of the rougher ground it was comfortable and never seemed unsettled.
The gutsy little turbocharged 1.6-litre engine was sharp and responsive and there was no turbo lag in sight. The only real issue surrounding the Juke Nismo is where it’s placed in the market. The power, price and performance of it put it in direct opposition with the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTI and the RenaultSport Clio all of which are no compromise undiluted hot hatches. But if you’re wanting something that bit different that can offer the same hot hatch thrills, there’s plenty to admire in the Nissan Juke Nismo.