MAIN­STREAM MO­TOR­SPORT

Nismo gets its hands on diminu­tive SUV for lim­ited-re­lease of­fer­ing

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - MOTORING & LIFESTYLE - GRANT EDWARDS

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.

JUKE RANGE

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.

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