Nissan Juke kicks up fun with NISMO model

Nissan’s Juke seems to be a hit. I’ve seen many them running about town with various types of drivers from young to middle aged.

This was in the regular fun version. My first experience in the Juke came in NISMO trim, which the company introduced at the Chicago Auto show back in January.

2013 Nissan Juke NISMO
2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

If Juke owners are happy with regular, wait till they sample the extra crispy version. This thing is a blast.

The NISMO (Nissan’s tuner division) gets a host of upgrades over the Juke. The turbocharged engine has been massaged to put out 197 horsepower – not bad for a 1.6-liter engine. To handle the boost in power, the spoiler, suspension and tires have been upgraded. The summer tires are mounted to 18-inch spoke wheels while the ground clearance has been lowered. The exterior gets a aero body kit to help reduce drag coefficient.

I’m also liking those ruby red outside mirrors. Great touch.

The interior is all black and grippy. The seats have the same covers featured in the 370Z. A red line has been added at 12 o’clock on the Alcantra leather covered steering so the drive always knows the direction the wheels are pointing. The six-speed shift knob is leather with red stitching and has a leather boot. The tachometer is in bright red which stares at you like a one-eyed bandit.

The NISMO changes are certainly more than cosmetic. Owners happily talk about their Juke’s handling capabilities. This NISMO version must be better. It really likes corners – eats ‘em up. Those summer tires and revised suspension are a great combination. The torque vectoring all wheel drive system also comes into play. It shifts power from side to side as well as front to back as needed.

I was surprised at the comfortable ride. Well, comfortable for what it is. I was expecting unbearable and what I got was pleasant. Nissan says this is a sport crossover and I’ll have to agree.

Shift lever gets leather hboot
Shift lever gets leather boot

The Juke’s interior is an interesting mix of futuristic and simplistic. I like the I-CON system which allows you to select the Juke’s mood. You can give it a boost if you feel frisky or be environmentally conscience by selecting the eco mode. You can even control the climate.

The optional navigation package with backup camera and the kicking Rockford Fosgate stereo were plusses.

If you are looking for room (and if you picked this vehicle you were not) there’s plenty for  passenger and driver. The back seat is listed for three, may hold two and would be most comfortable for one. It does fold so you can throw stuff back there when there are no passengers.

The looks? You will either love them or hate them. It’s cute but muscular at the same time. The stubby length makes it look fast sitting still. It’s not quite as iconic as a VW Beetle, but Nissan has certainly given us something different to look upon.

There’s nothing else on the road like this. Nissan will tell you that was its point. Point well taken.



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