Nissan Juke Nismo SUV
Price £21,650 - £23,755
- Unique styling
- Lots of character
- Reasonably priced
- Noisy engine
- Rolls around in corners
- No reach adjustment for steering wheel
At a glance
"The Nissan Juke Nismo RS is lots of fun to drive, without sacrificing everyday practicality."
The Nissan Juke Nismo is the high-performance version of the standard Nissan Juke and was the first of Nissan's range of Nismo-tuned cars to be offered in the UK. In 2015, Nissan upgraded the model to the Juke Nismo RS to better compete with the Renaultsport Clio, Peugeot 208 GTi and Ford Fiesta ST.
Originally designed to be a competitor for the now-defunct MINI Paceman Cooper S, the Juke Nismo RS uses the same 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that you’ll find in the standard Juke DIG-T petrol model, but tuned to produce an extra 10bhp for a total power output of 197bhp.
It comes with either front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox or four-wheel drive with a CVT automatic. We much prefer the former, as the CVT gearbox is totally unsuited to the car's sporty nature.
The Juke Nismo is pleasingly lively to drive, but also comfortable enough to be used as an everyday car – even with suspension that's been stiffened by 10% compared to the regular Juke in order to improve its handling.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Fuel efficiency is acceptable and on par with the MINI Countryman
The Nissan Juke Nismo RS is a performance-tuned version of the standard Juke, so running costs were never going to be its top priority. The front-wheel-drive Nismo RS returns 40.9mpg fuel economy and emits 159g/km of CO2, which puts it in road tax band G. However, the four-wheel-drive model can only manage to return 38.2mpg and emits 169g/km of CO2 – which is identical to what the less powerful 1.6-litre DIG-T model manages and also bumps its up one more tax band.
In comparison, the MINI Countryman Cooper S returns 46.3mpg and emits 143g/km of CO2 with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, while the ALL4 four-wheel-drive model fitted with a six-speed automatic box manages to return 36.7mpg and emits 180g/km of CO2.
Nissan offers a fixed-price servicing package for the Juke Nismo RS that should help keep maintenance costs manageable.
Engines, drive & performance
Good fun to drive, with everyday useability
No one would deny that the standard Juke was crying out for an injection of excitement – and the Nismo RS definitely delivers just that. The turbocharged engine is quick to respond when you push the accelerator, but it gets pretty noisy at higher speeds. However, there's not quite enough performance to truly worry the very best hot hatches, such as the VW Golf GTI.
While increased body roll due a tall body means the Nismo RS doesn't handle as well as more traditional hot hatchbacks such as the Renaultsport Clio, stiffer suspension and heavier steering means it can change direction quicker and feels much sportier than the standard model.
The RS also boasts a front differential, which is a complicated and clever bit of kit that sends power to whichever of the two front wheels has the most grip, allowing you to get on the power earlier and drive out of corners faster.
We wouldn't recommend the more expensive four-wheel-drive version, because while it has more grip in slippery weather conditions, the CVT automatic gearbox doesn’t match the rest of the car’s sheer enthusiasm for driving.
Interior & comfort
Stiff and bumpy ride, but not a lot firmer than the standard Juke
Considering that the suspension on the Juke Nismo RS is 10% stiffer than the standard car's, there really isn’t much impact on ride comfort. When driving at motorway speeds, there's a tendency for the car to bob about a bit more over small bumps, but it definitely still feels softer than the harsh JCW version of the MINI Countryman.
The Nismo RS gets some nice suede-trimmed sports seats that are a great addition to the interior, because they manage to be soft enough to make long journeys comfortable, while also being supportive enough to hold you firmly in place in corners.
Wind and road noise are generally well suppressed, but there's a noticeable din from the wing mirrors at motorway speeds. The booming engine sound can get a little tiresome after a while, too.
Practicality & boot space
Space is tight, but not a lot worse than competitors
Neither general practicality nor interior space are negatively affected by choosing the Juke Nismo RS rather than the standard car. The only thing to be wary of is that the Juke Nismo RS is still very far from a genuine off-roader – even when fitted with four-wheel drive. It may have a raised SUV-style body, but it's still a supermini at heart.
The boot offers a reasonable 251 litres of space with the rear seats in place, which isn’t bad for this class. Fold the standard 60:40 split-folding rear seats flat and that capacity expands to 550 litres. However, if you do choose the 4x4 model, then boot capacity is reduced to 207 litres with the back seats up and 506 litres with them folded flat.
Reliability & safety
As safe and reliable as the standard Juke
The standard Juke placed a healthy 62nd in our Driver Power 2013 customer satisfaction survey’s top 100 cars list, but dropped significantly to 101st in the 2014 survey. The difference between the Nismo RS and the standard car is mainly the enhanced 1.6-litre DIG-T engine and stiffened suspension, so it shouldn't be any less reliabile.
What's more, the Juke scored the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, so it remains a very safe car. Standard safety equipment is generous, with electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, six airbags, active front head restraints and ISOFIX child-seat mounts all included.
Inside, the Nismo RS feels higher-quality than the standard car, too, thanks to its suede-trimmed seats, suede steering wheel and 5.8-inch sat-nav screen. All the materials used feel robust enough to stand up to some fairly extensive daily wear and tear, and overall the Nismo RS feels strong, safe and just that little bit more upmarket than the standard Juke.
Price, value for money & options
Well equipped and well priced, but a lot more expensive than the Fiesta ST
Nissan was determined the Juke Nismo RS would be available to as many customers as possible, so it worked hard to ensure an affordable purchase price without compromising on standard equipment. The car comes with a 5.8-inch sat-nav screen, climate control, sports seats, a reversing camera and push-button start – not to mention its chunkier bodykit, LED running lights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
We like the optional leather and suede-trimmed Recaro bucket seats (£1,300), which provide great support and are surprisingly comfortable, with other RS touches such as red decorative stitching and additional suede trim also fitted to the cabin. A tech pack (£900) is also offered which adds bright xenon headlamps, Nissan's 'Around View Monitor' camera, lane-departure warning and blind-spot warning.
You also get that more powerful engine, upgraded suspension and improved steering. The front-wheel-drive manual model costs £1,700 more than the standard 187bhp Juke 1.6 DIG-T, while the four-wheel-drive automatic model costs £2,220 more again.