Nissan began offering the subcompact Juke crossover four years ago, a combination of utility and sport in a uniquely styled vehicle with plenty of attitude.
This sassy little hatchback comes in a total of 10 trim levels, with prices from $20,250 to $30,020. Basic models include two S models, two SL models, and two SV models.
Sporty, track-oriented NISMO models include NISMO FWD, NISMO AWD, and NISMO RS FWD and NISMO RS AWD, with lots of motorsport engineering and experience from Nissan’s performance group. The RS model includes a unique engine, suspension, steering and brake tuning in an aggressive sport crossover.
Juke’s standard engine is a 1.6-liter direct-injection gasoline turbo producing 188 horsepower. NISMO RS upgrades to a RS-tuned high-output engine producing 215 horsepower and a RS performance six-speed manual gearbox with a helical-geared limited slip differential. The LSD directs more power to the front wheel with the most traction and reduces torque steer.
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For 2015, the significantly revised engine design offers enhanced fuel efficiency, improved responsiveness and lower emissions. EPAfuel-economy estimates range from 25 mpg city/29 highway to 28 city/34 highway, depending on model and configuration.
Front-wheel-drive NISMO models have a six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive models have an Xtronic continuously variable automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters.
The Juke NISMO models also get an aggressive performance stance from the specially tuned suspensions and 18-inch lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels.
Notable NISMO exterior features include a unique front (with mesh type lower grille) and rear bumpers and lowered side sill spoilers with signature red striping, a special front grille (with chrome insert) and larger rear spoiler, red mirror covers with integrated LED turn signals, extended wheel flares, special sinister-looking “smoked” front light treatments, red brake calipers with 12.6-inch front discs and vented rear rotors, performance exhaust with 3.9-inch finisher, 12 LED daytime running lights in the lower front fascia, special 10 twin-spoke 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels in anthracite with sport summer tires, and NISMO or NISMO RS badging.
The redesigned front and rear fascia, the tweaked rear spoiler and the lowered side sills give the NISMO RS 37 percent more downforce than non-NISMO models, and a more aerodynamic profile
Juke also has LED signature accent lights, hidden black-color rear door handles, a glossy black B-pillar, aluminum kick plates, and a rear liftgate with fixed glass and intermittent wiper. Three exterior colors are offered: Super Black, Brilliant Silver and White Pearl.
My NISMO RS FWD was Brilliant Silver with Black NISMO RS Leather/Synthetic Suede and Gray Trim. The NISMO-style interior featured red accents and dark finishes, such as red stitching on the shifter knob and boot, seating surfaces, steering wheel, and suede instrument panel hood; red panels on the Recaro front sport -seat bolsters and NISMO-embossed headrests, and a red racing-inspired top-center mark on the steering wheel; a red tachometer and red pushbutton-start ring; piano black on the door armrests, on the center console/shift surround, and center stack; carbon black accents on the center stack, shifter knob, and shift surround trim; a NISMO badge on the center console and meter panel; and a dark headliner.
Recaro trademarked German-designed seating is ergonomic, sporty and exceptionally safe, with high, rigid bolsters and fully integrated headrests. In fact, Recaro makes professional bucket seats for international motorsports, and drivers and passengers in large trucks and buses. The seats were snug and comforting in sharp turns. However, my passenger and I found entry/exit difficult and almost painful due to the unyielding nature of the bolster frame.
Imitation suede accented the driver’s seat and bolster and the door panels, while tricot fabric accented the rear bench seat. All doors had beverage holders with small pockets. The leather and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel had audio controls and controls for the Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and Text Messaging Assistant.
Audio included AM/FM/CD with six upgraded speakers, a Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH system with powered subwoofer, satellite radio, and a USB connector for iPod and similar devices.
Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH consumes less power than conventional systems with a powerful eight-inch long-throw subwoofer for dynamic, hard-hitting signature sound. An MP3 player brings your entire CD collection along.
The center console was inspired by a motorcycle fuel tank and offered knee support during sharp cornering. The high-mounted shifter was on top of the console for controllability and a responsive sporty feel.
An Integrated Control System on the center stack controlled the cabin environment as well as other vehicle adjustments, including drive mode. Push a button to select Normal, Sport, Eco or D-Mode, and Juke adapts to individual driving demands/requirements.
The rear bench seat folded 60/40, creating a flat load floor for maximum passenger and cargo hauling capability, with 10.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 35.9 cubic feet with the seat folded flat.
There was also a hidden compartment under the cargo floor, only available on FWD models, with a lift-out tray outfitted with tire tools in customized slots, for access to the temporary spare.
While the front passenger and driver had more-than-adequate headroom (39.6 inches) and legroom (42.1 inches), the rear passengers had barely adequate legroom with 32.1 inches. Headroom was better at 36.7 inches, but the middle seat had very little legroom. All three seating positions had LATCH connections for child safety seats.
My tester had six air bags, including roof-mounted side-curtain bags for front and rear outboard seats, and seat-mounted front side-impact air bags. The front air bags had occupant classification sensors to determine the amount of deployment required depending on occupant size and weight.
Safety equipment/technology also included a vehicle immobilizer, security system, tire-pressure monitoring, vehicle dynamic control, antilock braking, and traction control systems.
NissanConnectSM with Navigation and Mobile Apps is standard and shares a 5.8-inch color touch screen monitor with Around View with Moving Object Detection and RearView, SiriusXM Traffic, SiriusXM Travel Link, and the audio system. The systems also share voice recognition.
Around View, Moving Object Detection and RearView help avoid collisions when backing or maneuvering in tight place, and Juke’s high driver’s position helps with visibility all around.
Base price for my Juke NISMO RS was $28,020. With a carpeted floor mat/cargo mat package for $220, a center armrest package for $220, and $825 in destination charges, the total was $29,315.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.