Nismo gets its hands on diminutive SUV for limited-release offering
Nissan’s Juke compact SUV was no stranger to quirkiness — now the brand’s go-fast tuning arm Nismo has dialled up the fun factor.
The sporting make-over follows the tyre tracks of similar work on the fire-breathing GT-R supercar and the two-seater 370Z.
The Juke is the first Nissan SUV to get extra power and suspension tweaks to improve performance courtesy of Nismo.
Prices increase — the premium is nearly $8000 over the Ti-S grade (currently $29,990 drive-away) on which the limited edition is based. The automatic, expected to account for the lion’s share of sales, is $41,490 plus on-roads with only 240 units available.
It’s part of a mildly refreshed three-model 2018 Juke range that starts from $23,490.
The additional spend on the Nismo RS brings internal athletic flair, body kit, sports exhaust, stiffer suspension, bigger brakes and greater body rigidity for improved cornering.
There’s extra grunt for the 1.6-litre turbo but it’s not across the board.
The Nismo RS gets an extra 20kW in front-wheel drive six-speed manual form and 17kW in all-wheel drive with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Torque is boosted by, respectively, 40Nm and 10Nm. Nissan attributes the reduced outputs to the translation to all-wheel drive.
Missing are advanced safety features — such as autonomous emergency braking and radar cruise control, as well as smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but it gets full audio and phone streaming.
To justify the Nismo nameplate, says Nissan spokesman Chris Schultz, the Juke needed to be more than just a “sticker pack”.
“Juke has a wide range of buyers,” he says. “You can get two people who are similar and one will love it and the other will loathe it.”
The alcantara-clad steering wheel with red straight-ahead marker has fine heft in the hands but a smaller, chunkier wheel might better suit the Nismo ethos.
Sporty front seats with suede trim and red stitching provide impressive support and bolstering, yet the curvy black hard plastics
adorning the dash remain.
The console and gear shifter get further standout treatment. The console maintains its inspiration from superbike fuel tank designs with faux carbon-fibre finishes and, reminding the driver this is no run-of-the-mill SUV, there’s a Nismo badge in front of the shifter.
Don’t expect hot hatch prowess. It packs extra sporting attitude but it’s short of raucous.
ON THE ROAD
Power delivery is punchy rather than sledgehammer. The front-drive manual, even with its limited-slip differential, can be a handful — accelerate with vigour while steering off the straight-ahead and there is ample tugging at the wheel. It doesn’t like multitasking.
The diminutive engine performs best above 2500rpm and pulling up to the redline just shy of 6500rpm. It drinks about a litre more for every 100km than other Juke versions and it also needs premium unleaded.
Ride height has been lowered by 5mm in the auto models but manuals sit 9mm higher. Given it is built in the United Kingdom, the indicator stalk is on the left of the steering column.
Nismo models come in just three colours: ivory, black or platinum.
While the Nismo RS is the new shining star, there is a subdued trio that complete the Juke range.
Base ST variants are only available with a manual transmission, powered by an 85kW/190Nm 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Compared to the previous iterations, refreshed models come with “smoked” finishes around the lights front and back, fog lamps and the company standard V-motion grille. Inside they now have grey cloth trim.
Seven colours are available, ivory, black, platinum, red, metallic grey and new additions of white and blue.
Premium paint options are $550. Attracting most sales will be Ti-S grades (starting from $30,140 plus on-roads) which come with a more powerful 140kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo engine, in both manual and CVT auto, along with three $800 personalisation packs for extra funky factor.
While there are restrictions on some colour combinations, the striking treatment packs are available in blue, orange or glossy black. Those colours are applied to the bumper inserts, mirror caps, wheels, and inside on the centre console, door sections and side vents.