Nissan Juke Nismo SUV
Price £22,180 - £24,285
- Eye-catching styling
- More fun than its looks suggests
- Well priced
- Engine is noisy
- Ford Fiesta ST more fun to drive
- 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 a rather unlikely looking performance car, with its tall stance slightly at odds with its racy bodykit and big wheels. But that's all part of the appeal. Under the bonnet sits a 215bhp turbocharged petrol engine providing performance on par with more conventional hot hatchbacks, such as the Ford Fiesta ST, Renault Clio RenaultSport and Peugeot 208 GTI.
Unlike those rivals, you can have your Nissan Juke Nismo RS – to give its full name – either as a four-wheel drive automatic or a front-wheel drive manual. We’d strongly recommend the former, as the automatic CVT gearbox is not only significantly slower, but its character is at odds with the car's sporty nature.
The Juke Nismo is no harder to drive day-to-day than the regular Nissan Juke, even if the suspension is slightly firmer in order to improve its cornering abilities.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Fuel efficiency is perfectly acceptable for a performance car like this
For most buyers, the running costs associated with the Nissan Juke Nismo play second fiddle to its ability to excite. While its fuel economy is worse than that of the Ford Fiesta ST, its claimed 39.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 168g/km is slightly better than the Mini Countryman John Cooper Works. That means road tax will cost £205 a year.
Running costs increase if you choose the automatic version, but not by enough that you’d notice.
While the Juke Nismo will lose more value over the first three years and 36,000 miles than a MINI Countryman JCW, the fact that the MINI costs more to buy in the first place means you’ll loose more pounds by choosing it.
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 usability
Critics might argue that a performance version of the crossover alternative to a supermini is a car that nobody asked for. So the fact that the Juke Nismo RS is an awful lot of fun is the ultimate retort.
The turbocharged engine is quick to respond to a press of the accelerator, although its gets noisy at high speed. Nissan claims the manual Juke Nismo will accelerate from 0-62mph in seven seconds, before reaching a top speed of 137mph. The automatic version is slower, hobbled by a slightly uncooperative gearbox and the additional weight it brings.
The Nismo is fitted with stiffer suspension and heavier-feeling steering than the standard car, meaning that it can change direction more quickly and generally feels more involving to drive. Despite this, there’s still quite a lot of body lean in the corners and it doesn’t feel as alert as a Renault Clio Renaultsport as a result.
Front-wheel drive models with a manual gearbox feature a limited slip differential which allows the car to send more power to the wheel with the most grip. That increases grip, meaning it can accelerate out of corners more easily.
The four-wheel drive version is harder to recommend, mainly because it’s compromised with a CVT-type automatic gearbox which makes the engine roar under any kind of acceleration and generally feels stodgy compared to the Nismo’s otherwise fast and taut nature.
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, the Nismo often bobs and jostles around over smaller bumps, but it’s still softer than the harsh MINI Countryman JCW.
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
Despite the Juke Nismo’s small SUV origins, there’s not a huge amount of space inside. The rear seats are rather cramped, thanks to the car’s sloping roofline eating into headroom, plus there aren’t really many storage spaces inside. In these respects, you’d be better off with a MINI Countryman JCW or a Renault Clio Renaultsport.
Models built after 2014 have a larger boot, so your two-wheel drive Juke Nismo will enjoy 354 litres of room. Choose the four-wheel drive version and this figure reduces to a rather less impressive 207 litres.
Reliability & safety
As safe and reliable as the standard Juke
The standard Juke placed a healthy 62nd in our Driver Power 2013 customer ownership survey’s top 100 cars list, but dropped significantly to 101st in the 2014 survey. It wasn’t featured in the 2015 survey due to a tiny number of owners responding. It’s worth knowing that Nissan made a poor showing in the manufacturer table, with a 28th place finish out of 32.
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 reliable.
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 Nismo 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 more that £2,000 more than the standard 187bhp Juke 1.6 DIG-T Tekna, while the four-wheel-drive automatic model costs £2,000 more again.