Hot Juke offers the same fun factor as a hot hatch, but with better visibility and a higher centre of gravity

What is it?

An early taster of Nissan's new Juke Nismo RS, which is due to reach Europe early next year.

Sampled here in pre-facelift form in Canada, Nissan's performance arm has tuned the Juke Nismo's 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine to 212bhp and 210lb ft of torque – increases of 18bhp and 26lb ft respectively.

That’s achieved thanks to a retuned ECU and a larger diameter exhaust, as well as stronger connecting rods used in the engine.

To help put that extra power to the ground, the gearbox receives shorter gearing, as well as a more durable clutch and flywheel. Perhaps the most important addition to the RS is the helical limited slip differential.

Ride height is unchanged from the standard Nismo, but spring and damping rates are up slightly, and the electric power steering is retuned for a slightly more sporting response.

Clamped by red calipers, the RS’ front brake discs are 12.6-inches versus 11.7 inches in the Nismo, and rear discs are vented rather than the Nismo’s solid rears. Pad material is also unique to the RS.

Body changes from the Juke Nismo carry over, save for the addition of RS badges, and, for what it’s worth, Nissan says the more aggressive Nismo fascia and grille improve downforce by 37 per cent.

The addition of a pair of Recaro-supplied bucket seats inside is the notable change. As found in other cars fitted with similar Recaros, they rank high on support with moderate comfort, but if you enjoy a good sport seat, you’ll be pleased with these. 

Although the RS sits lower than the regular Juke, it still sits higher than your average hot hatch, so those on the shorter end of the height spectrum will find themselves climbing over the very pronounced seat cushion bolster.

What's it like?

On the road, the Nismo RS acts much like that tall hot hatch you expect. At low speeds, the shorter 1st through 3rd gearing feels like it results in quicker acceleration but doesn’t show much on the stopwatch. 

At low speeds, however, the limited slip differential does little to help torque steer and only at moderate speeds does the differential feel like it’s working to properly distribute torque.

The six-speed manual transmission could benefit from better defined gates, but is enjoyable to use. Clutch action is rather light and feel from the pedal is minimal, and takes some familiarity before you can consistently feel the clutch’s engagement point.

Brake feel and control are impressive, undoubtedly due to the larger front discs and uprated pad material, and gives you a high level of confidence behind the wheel.

Should I buy one?

Overall, there is no mistaking the Juke’s crossover roots for a low-slung hot hatch, and that’s not a bad thing. Better visibility and ground clearance are just two of the positives, but the RS’s higher centre of gravity otherwise puts it at disadvantage to traditional performance flavoured hot hatches. 

When the new model arrives in Europe early next year, the Juke Nismo RS will be an even more interesting hot hatch alternative.

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Brian Makse

Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Price £23,000 (set); 0-62mph 7.0sec (est); Top speed 130mph; Economy 39.0mpg (combined); CO2 NA; Kerbweight 1308kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1618cc, turbocharged, petrol; Installation Transverse, front-wheel drive; Power 212bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 210lb ft at 3600-4800rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

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Turismo 13 August 2014


It would be good if Nissan offered the Nismo RS option with the 4wd model too.
It wouldnt need the special diff or expensive tyres.
fadyady 12 August 2014

Juke Nukem

Well, the message is clear, the Juke is here to stay. These upgrades enable the daddy of all small crossovers to stay ahead of the increasing competition.