2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

2013 Nissan Juke NISMO Review

Nissan's oddball gets juiced up.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: September 24th, 2013

Nissan's Juke is one of the oddest-looking SUVs - heck, oddest-looking vehicles in general - on the market. So of course Nissan dolled it up with aerodynamics that have both functional and aesthetic purposes, making it stand out even more.

Souped-up SUVs are always a bit of an exercise in silliness, so perhaps the NISMO (stands for Nissan Motorsports) edition fits right in. Nissan has already said it intends to market the Juke to young, urban-dwelling males: will tarting the little runabout up and adding some more power make the bug-eyed crossover jump out of showrooms faster?

  • On the Road

    Adding nine horsepower and seven lb-ft of torque (the standard Juke clocks in at 188/177, while the NISMO is at 197/184) doesn't add that much jump, but the Juke remains adequately powered for most duties.

    Our all-wheel-drive tester handled competently, but suffered from typical SUV bugaboos, such as body roll and understeer. The steering felt nice and direct with appropriate weight, but even with a sport-tuned suspension, the NISMO still fell a bit short of its sportiest goals. It's better than most small crossovers, but it's still a small crossover.

    The Juke is a bit stiffly sprung, especially on rough pavement - this isn't a crossover for smooth cruising.

  • Exterior

    You won't forget the face of this little bugger. Short and squat with a sloping roofline and a face that sports a demented grin, the Juke stands out. Some will find it ugly, some will find it pretty, and none will forget it. The NISMO touches do give the Juke a more macho look that might appeal to those who'd normally shun the Juke as "too cute."

  • Interior

    Nissan dresses up the interior with racing-inspired materials, such as metal trim for the pedals and Alcantara on the steering wheel. The information center/climate-control screen that changes depending on drive mode remains, and it's one of the cooler features.

    The overall design includes plenty of curves - and plenty of hard plastic - and it works in a funky, modernist sort of way.

    Headroom and legroom up front are adequate, but not impressive. We did find most of the switchgear to be logical and easy to use, but we'd like a few more interior storage options.

  • Final Thoughts

    Slapping the NISMO label on the Juke doesn't make it appreciably faster or better-handling - but it does look cooler/less objectionable than the standard Juke.

    More importantly, at less than $30K as-tested, it might appeal to young buyers who need to haul people and stuff and don't want to give up on the cheap sports-car dream. Not to mention that all-wheel-drive can be a bonus in bad weather.

    We like the NISMO interior touches, but we'd be more easily swayed by more power and tighter country-road moves. The NISMO is somewhat more substantial than an appearance package, but it doesn't achieve the performance we'd like.

    Having the NISMO package makes the Juke more appealing, but it's still among the oddest of ducks.

  • Specs, Features, and Prices

    Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

    Horsepower: 197

    Torque: 184 lb-ft.

    Transmission: Continuously-variable automatic (CVT)

    Fuel Economy: 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway

    Base Price: $25,290

    As-Tested Price: $27,495 (including $790 destination fee)

    Available Features: Bluetooth, satellite radio, rearview camera, navigation, sport suspension, 18-inch wheels, NISMO-themed trim and badging.

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