Positioning the Nissan Juke as a sporty car might well be a step too far for some, but the 200PS Nismo version is quick, handles well and is strong value for money.
It’s front-wheel drive like most hot hatches but has a practical side too. Weird but surprisingly sensible.
The 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine gets another 10PS teased from it, offering a healthy 200PS output. Torque rises to 250Nm between 2400 and 4800rpm, so this isn’t one of those engines that you have to absolutely cane to make rapid progress. It’ll get to 60mph in 7.4 seconds and keep going to a top speed of 134mph.
This accessibility of performance is reflected in the car’s chassis set up. Nissan hasn’t gone overboard and has instead subtly adjusted what was already a very capable platform by increasing spring rates by ten per cent, while working to optimise front end grip and offering a quicker geared steering system. The front-wheel drive chassis is more than capable of handling this power output and it’s questionable whether directing drive to all four wheels would make this a better car. Nissan offers the Juke Nismo with all-wheel drive and a CVT gearbox, but unless you really want to rest your left leg, the front-wheel drive manual car is the better bet and better value by far.
Nismo has given this Juke a look all of its own with front and rear Nismo badging, 18-inch wheels and a subtle body kit featuring signature red door mirrors with a matching lower red pinstripe. There’s also a signature front grille and LED daytime running lights. But the changes are more than just cosmetic. The aerodynamic addenda, which features lower front and rear bumpers, wider wings and sill side skirts, plus a modified grille and tailgate spoiler, helps to reduce front and rear lift without increasing drag.
Even after having been sale for a few years, the Juke’s styling still takes a bit of getting used to. After a while, you grow accustomed to its unconventional lines and begin to revel in the fact that here is a really bold and interesting piece of design. As long as you can get along with the styling, there’s very little not to like.