We first tested the cool and quirky Nissan Juke when it arrived for 2011. We found it to be a fun little runabout good for both town and country outings, with a style, to say the least, that’s all its own. Well, there’s still nothing quite like the Juke. Still, that hasn’t stopped Nissan from cranking up the wow factor even more with the Nissan Juke NISMO.
NISMO is Nissan’s Motorsports arm, and they’ve applied their muscle to Nissan’s smallest, and oddest looking ute, to give us the 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO.
Why the Juke? Well, that’s a good question and we’re not sure we have a good answer, but Nissan designed the Juke with young buyers in mind, and what better way to appeal to them even more than by creating an even spicier version.
We think the interior upgrades alone are worth the price of admission. Everything from trim, to seating, steering wheel, shifter, pedals, and even gauges has been re-worked.
It’s not all show either. The 1.6-liter I4 engine was already turbocharged, but for the NISMO, gets a computer re-flash to upcrank output to 197-horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. 9-horsepower and 7 lb-ft. are modest gains to be sure, but enough to be noticed.
Stick with front-wheel-drive for a 6-speed manual that works well. If you want all-wheel-drive you’ll have to go CVT, which to us, goes against the whole point of a NISMO redo.
We eagerly ran to our test track and found plenty of traction at launch, though you have to wait until you’re up on the spool to really grab power. Shifting to 2nd, you’ll get a nice hard hit of it as the needle climbs the RPM dial quickly. 0-60 in 6.9-seconds; quarter-mile in 15.5 at 90 miles-per-hour.
While enjoyable on back roads at moderate speeds, the original Juke’s agile, if a bit sloppy response, when put through our tight corners, didn’t win any medals. But, with the NISMO treatment, even without all-wheel drive, handling takes a giant step up.
Through the cones, there’s stronger grip, and more precise steering reaction with improved weight to the wheel. It’s now among the sportiest CUVs going. Thanks to a full suspension overhaul, lowered ride height, and re-tuning of the Juke’s electric power-assisted steering.
Yes, we know the Juke is still not the most practical crossover; rear seat area is fairly cramped; cargo room is bested by most compact cars with just 10½ cubic-ft. behind the folding seatbacks. Still, there’s good room up front and acceptable ride quality, so it’s plenty livable, and with the NISMO treatment, even desirable.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our front-drive manual are 25-City, 31-Highway, and 27-Combined. We averaged a good 28.6, but had to use Premium fuel. The Energy Impact Score is decent for a crossover at 12.2-barrels of oil consumed and 5.4-tons of CO2 emitted annually.
The Juke NISMO is well equipped and stickers for $23,785, or about 4-grand over a base model. That puts it in about the middle of the Juke offerings, with all-wheel-drive CVT models start at $26,080.
The 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO is certainly not for everyone, and that’s part of its appeal. It remains a fun little runabout that now looks and drives even cooler. And if you like the NISMO idea, Nissan has plans to greatly expand their NISMO offerings, which should do a lot to bring some much needed excitement to the Nissan brand.
Engine: 1.6-liter I4
Torque: 184 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.5 seconds @ 90 mph
EPA: 25 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 12.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.4 tons/yr