Small SUVs or, if you prefer, crossovers are all about fun. Nissan’s Juke is a prime example. “Don’t pick that humdrum hatch!” It seems to scream, “Pick me! Look how fun I am with my pointlessly muscular front grille, chunky arches and silly-shaped boot. Look at the contrast detailing on the dashboard and the lights, the lights!” The crossovers’ – as Nissan DO prefer to call them – and the Juke in particular’s triumph has been to provide an outlet for buyers who want to buy something different from a three-box saloon or a C-segment hatchback, but who don’t actually have any need to spend money on a go-anywhere AWD or an impractical two-seater convertible. Juke Nismo RS Recaro Price: £23,650 Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol Power: 215bhp Torque: 207lb/ft Transmission: Six-speed manual Top speed: 137mph 0-62: 7 seconds Economy: 39.2mpg combined CO2 emissions: 168g/km When I drove a 1.2-litre petrol Juke a couple of months ago, I had to concede that despite looks that continue to divide opinion, the Juke is a fairly practical option for anyone looking for something bigger than a supermini, but not looking to make the step up to a larger SUV. Slightly annoying-shaped boot aside we fitted our family of four into it no problem and it did the job just fine for the school run and weekly shop – and of course it was fun to look at. But was it fun to drive? Well it handled well enough, and the 114bhp engine meant it had enough about it to zip around the town – but it’s not going to make the wishlist of many petrol heads. The Nismo RS edition might just, however. What could be more fun than 215bhp, sports suspension, a lairy body-kit and an exhaust Luke Skywalker could bullseye from his T-15 back on Tatooine? That juiced-up tuning of Nissan’s 1.6 DIG-T engine means 207lb/ft of torque and you feel every pound as you put your foot down in first or second gear. Torque steer is something you really have to be wary of in lower gears as the car does its best to shotput you into the grass verge via the engine bay. It’s not such a problem as you power closer to 60 but that early throttle response and the whine from the engine haromising with the bass gurgle from the Nismo-tuned exhaust show you what this car is all about. It’s for roaring away from the lights laughing and for a blast of speed on the motorway slip-road, one last minute of fun before you settle into the hum-drum of nose-to-tail traffic on the daily commute – for snatching your fun when you can. Nought to 62 comes in seven seconds dead and top speed is 137mph – so it’s certainly quick enough to justify the Nismo badge, but in higher gears it’s fairly civilised, bordering on slightly disappointing as the power lags far more noticeably if a burst of speed is needed while cruising. What doesn’t disappoint is the handling. The sports steering set-up – rack and pinion but electrically assisted – is wonderfully direct. I’m reminded of another sporty Nismo model – the 370z Nismo edition – which had the same directness, albeit with a lower centre of gravity and rear-wheel-drive balance. As a compact crossover, the Juke Nismo RS is no Range Rover Sport SVR knock off or cut-priced Mercedes-AMG G65, obviously. What it is, is a hot hatch, in the classic sense. Practical, fast, sporty-looking, well-priced and, crucially, fun.
Source : www.inews.co.uk