2013 Nissan Juke Nismo review

  • Hot 197bhp Juke tested in UK
  • Front- and four-wheel-drive versions
  • On sale now, from £19,999
Read the Nissan Juke review
Read the Nissan Juke review
The Nissan Juke Nismo is a rival to warm hatchbacks such as the Citroen DS3 and Mini Cooper S, as well as more potent machines such as the Renaultsport Clio 200 and Ford Fiesta ST. It's intended to be fun and desirable, yet usable on a daily basis.

The Nismo's 197bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine has 9bhp more than the unit in the standard Juke, while its torque level rises by 8lb ft to 185lb ft. The Nismo upgrades also include stiffer suspension, quicker steering, 18-inch alloys, suede-trimmed sports seats and sat-nav.

Two versions are on offer: the manual, front-wheel-drive model tested here (which costs £19,999) and a four-wheel-drive variant with an automatic CVT gearbox that costs £22,195.

What’s the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo like to drive?
There's no denying that the Juke Nismo is fast. The engine feels punchy from around 2000rpm and there's more than enough torque for you to gain speed rapidly without ever having to get near the 6500rpm redline. That's just as well, really, because the motor sounds a bit strained when you work it hard.

The steering feels sharper in corners than a regular Juke's and the revised suspension is sophisticated enough for even this relatively tall car to stay admirably planted and stable during hard cornering. However, if you're too keen with the throttle pedal you'll quickly find yourself spinning the front wheels and running wide in bends.

Its ride quality has suffered in the name of this cornering prowess, too; the Nismo is fine on smoother A-roads, but sharper bumps and potholes are quickly transmitted through to the cabin.

Read the Nissan Juke review

Refinement isn't a strong point; the engine is smooth enough at a cruise, but a relatively short sixth gear means that at motorway speeds you'll still be pulling around 3000rpm, so it's a constant, noticeable companion.

What’s the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo like inside?
The Nismo's sports seats are excellent, with enough adjustment for them to be comfortable and supportive for most front occupants. Taller drivers may struggle, though, because the Juke's steering wheel adjusts for height only, not reach. The two sports seats also reduce the amount of space for rear passengers.

Read the Nissan Juke review

Seats aside, the front cabin is a real hotchpotch of styles, with flashes of chrome (door handles), piano black (centre console), suede (seats and door trim), leather (gearknob and parts of the steering wheel) and drab plastic (everywhere else). It's chintzy, and far from coherent, but it could appeal to those after a motorsport-influenced interior.

At least the standard equipment list is relatively generous; it includes an upgraded Nissan Connect system that brings a 5.8-inch colour touch-screen and more advanced smartphone connectivity.

Should I buy one?
If you're sold on the idea of a pseudo-baby SUV with real point-and-squirt pace, the Nissan Juke Nismo is worth considering. We can see how its rarity factor and extrovert looks will appeal to some.

Read the Nissan Juke review

However, if you're willing to forego a little of the standard kit list, then there are faster, more polished alternatives available – and many of the star performers are usefully cheaper than the Juke Nismo to buy.

What Car? says...

Ford Fiesta ST
Renault Clio Renaultsport 200

Read the Nissan Juke review >>

Engine size1.6-litre turbo
Price from £19,999
Power 197bhp
Torque 185lb ft
0-62mph 7.8 seconds
Top speed 133mph
Fuel economy 40.9mpg
CO2 159g/km

By John McIlroy

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