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Nissan Juke Nismo RS DIG-T

Click to view picture gallery“Nissans trend-setting Juke
  compact SUV is not a car you buy
  just to drive, but to wear. And like
  standout couture, the Juke Nismo
  hot looks are perfect for extroverts
  who can handle

A THRUSTING NISMO FRONT GRILLE, trademark Nismo (Nissan Motorsport) red detailing on the bodykit including red door mirror skins and red brake callipers, pumped-up wings and wheelarches wrapped around racy 18-inch Nismo alloys, and a sloping roofline extended by a standout spoiler together ramp up the street cred for a style-trumps-all outfit.

But beneath the flamboyant styling and assertive high-waisted stance there's a practical side to the Nismo RS: while its decent ground clearance makes it adept at clambering up urban kerbs, its trump card, should you tick the box for all-wheel drive, is its ability to cope with the UK's increasingly unpredictable and wetter climate.

Wetter? Laugh out loud but despite sizzling near-hundred-degree temperatures, parts of the country have seen rainfall go up! In fact, according to the Met Office, the UK is now wetter and hotter than at any other time during the last hundred years.

The 215bhp engine
t, thankfully, some
rev-needy wild child

the turboed 1.6-litre
in-line four slotted
into the Nismo
s engine
bay is nicely tractable
and delivers very peppy
mid-range urge
and sounds off through
a Nismo-tuned
exhaust system...”
With five doors there's more practicality from what at first glance appears to be a win for style over substance. Climb aboard. You sit high in agreeably supportive and smart to look at and good to feel suede-trimmed Nismo-branded Recaro sports bucket seats.

The wheel is a sporty little number — perfect for twirling — that's beautifully wrapped in Alcantara and leather with red stitching and a racing style red 'top dead centre' mark. It only adjusts for height but that doesn't prevent a perfect driving position being easily set.

The seats are brilliant; their serious red leather bolstering and integrated headrests provide all the support you'll ever need. There's an ally pedal set including a comfortable clutch-foot rest that comes in handy when you're in the cruise.

The Nismo-branded instruments, clustered beneath a black suede cowl, are smart and easy to read. Adding to the ambiance are suede-covered door trims and high gloss finishings surrounding the gear lever and touchscreen, which might only be 5.8-inches but the Nissan Connect navigation and infotainment system is easy-peasy to use with full postcode destination input and speaks in enough detail to ensure you never again need to make a U-turn.

Adding practicality and ease-of-use to the characterful cabin are good-sized bottle-holding door pockets, a useful two-section glovebox, a trad-style handbrake, two dual-use cupholders, and a colour reversing camera (four different views including 360-degree bird's-eye), an auto climate control system that makes staying cool oh-so-easy, keyless entry and start, cruise control and speed limiter, height-adjustable seat belts, auto lites and wipes, four electric widows, and powerfolding heated door mirrors (on-demand and automatically when locking and leaving), and rear privacy glass.

Of course there's a Nismo driver's computer, DAB digital radio/CD with six speakers, and Bluetooth phone integration, USB port and Aux socket for MP3 players along with all the essential comms features, tyre pressure monitoring, electronic stability control, LED daytime running lights, control, a dynamic driving control system, six airbags, and 18-inch Nismo alloys wearing 225/45 profile Continental rubber.

Our stunningly pristine pearlescent Storm White test car also came fitted with the 900 Tech Pack that adds Xenon headlights, and a suite of Nissan's Safety Shield technologies (the 360-degree Around View Monitor, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, and Moving Object Detection).

A big surprise is the ride
quality — this big-
wheeled, jacked-up
crossover actually rides
very nicely (despite
the underlying sport
chassis) even on
rippled and broken
blacktop, beating many
hot-hatches with its
fluent ride...”
Most Jukes bought in the UK are front-wheel drive although all-wheel drive can be had with a CVT autobox. Powerplants on offer are a 1.2-litre petrol with 115PS and a pair of 1.6-litre petrols (94/117PS) plus a 110PS 1.5 turbodiesel returning an official 70mpg!

The Nismo RS is, not unexpectedly, the quickest Juke off the mark, spurting forward to pass the 62mph post in a crisp 7 seconds dead. Keep your right foot planted and it will run on to 137mph.

While the styling might be a tad hyped, the engine, thankfully, isn't some rev-needy wild child. The turboed 1.6-litre in-line four slotted into the Nismo's engine bay spits out 215bhp backed up by 206lb ft of torque and sounds off through a Nismo-tuned exhaust system.

On the road it's nicely tractable (even in 5th at town speeds) and delivers very peppy mid-range performance while giving your left wrist a rest. However, if you do want to flick up and down through the ratios you'll find it a real pleasure because the manual six-speeder's shift action is satisfyingly slick. It's also quieter in the cabin than you'd be expecting with the legal limit in top gear available at an easy 2,750rpm.

And when it's time to visit the pumps you'll be pleased to find that you, like us, will have averaged 34.4mpg. For the record, the Nismo RS's official figure is 39.2mpg — less pedal-to-the-metal driving should see drivers bettering our test results. CO2 emissions are 168g/km, so no hot flushes every time you need to renew the road tax.

The Nismo RS version comes with a limited slip-diff to make the best of distributing the torque to the driven front wheels. Other upgrades include bigger front brakes (all four discs are ventilated with red callipers) and sports suspension with the settings retuned to benefit traction. The speed-sensitive power steering too is a cut above that of the 'ordinary' Juke: it's notably sharper with more feel; turn-in is immediate.

The upshot of all this Nismo-isation is an easy and fun to drive compact urban crossover. Roadholding is good and while it will lean some if you over-egg it through corners — but it's of the informative rather than scary type. So, yes, you can hustle it along and, yes, it will hold its line.

The Nismo RSs official
figure is 39.2mpg —
less pedal-to-the-metal
driving should see
drivers bettering
our 35mpg test results.
CO2 emissions are
168g/km, so no hot
flushes every time you
need to renew the
road tax...”
Where the Juke scores over lower-slung, more conventional, hot-hatch alternatives is in its commanding driving position (aided by deep side front windows) and excellent forward visibility that makes it a breeze to place accurately whether you're pressing on along twisting lanes or just parking. Sure there's some restricted rear-quarter visibility but that's pretty much neutralised by the parking camera.

A big surprise is the ride quality — this big-wheeled, jacked-up crossover actually rides very nicely (despite the underlying sport chassis) even on rippled and broken blacktop, beating many hot-hatches with its fluent ride.

The sloping rear glasshouse tricks you into thinking it will be a tight fit in the back seats — actually there's quite a bit of room. It's an easy up-'n'-in to the rear cabin despite the 180mm ground clearance and passengers sit high off the floor as well as higher than the driver and front passenger. Foot room is good front and the 60:40-slit/fold back seats are as smart and comfy as the front pair. Importantly, the backrests are set at comfortable angles and three side-by-side is even doable (for kids; two is the better number for full-grown adults), plus there are bottle-holding door bins.

While there are five doors and five seats within its smidgen over four-metre nose to tail length, it's likely that most owners will, most of the time, be only using the front two. Which makes the deep 354-litre boot more than fit for purpose.

For more meaningful load-lugging the rear seats can be folded to create a flat-floored loadbay with an accommodating 1,189 litres of capacity. A high-lifting tailgate makes loading easy, and should you prefer to tow rather than use the cargo bay the Juke will pull a braked 1,200kg.

The distinctive Nismo RS Juke offers a healthy dose of kit alongside oodles of pizzazz for not a lot of money. It's also comfortable and dual-purpose practical. Why settle for a boring old supermini hatch when, for the same outlay, you could be whizzing round in one of these charismatic crossovers. ~ MotorBar
Nissan Juke Nismo RS DIG-T | 24,340
Maximum speed: 137mph | 0-62mph: 7 seconds | Test Average: 34.4mpg
Power: 215bhp | Torque: 206lb ft | CO2: 168g/km