Surprisingly few visual differences set the Nismo RS apart from its non-RS forerunner. As part of last year’s facelift, all Jukes received a more prominent ‘V’ radiator grille, new upper headlights with LED running lights and new tail-lights, while upper-trim models also got new door mirrors with indicator repeaters.
But those changes, plus some discreet RS badges and some red brake calipers, really are all there is to speak of. Nissan says there’s a bigger exhaust muffler on the RS, but we’ll have to take their word for it because the tailpipe is identical. The new car even uses the same paint palette, wheels and tyres as the Nismo. We can’t help thinking an RS model should be better distinguished.
Where you can’t see it, Nissan has added structural reinforcements – mostly along the transmission tunnel and pillars – to modestly enhance the Juke’s rigidity.
The 1.6-litre DIG-T petrol engine has also been overhauled, and it now produces 215bhp and 207lb ft – 18bhp and 23lb ft gains on what it made in the old Nismo, and just enough to position this car among the fiercest hot superminis of the moment.
The powertrain is augmented with a dual-mass flywheel, a stronger clutch and shorter intermediate gear ratios, while the changes to the chassis consist of stiffer springs and dampers and bigger anti-roll bars. The suspension and steering remains otherwise the same: MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the back, with electro-mechanical power steering.
The latter has been retuned to account for a certain other interesting addition: on the front axle of two-wheel-drive versions of the Nismo RS you’ll find a new helical limited-slip differential.
We’re testing the front-driver, but, just as you could with the Nismo, you can have a four-wheel-drive Nismo RS if you prefer, which has the ability to act like a normal four-wheel driver system that has the ability to split the power like a traditional torque vectoring system.
If you do, you’ll get independent rear suspension and a slightly larger fuel tank. But you’ll also have to put up with a stepped ‘Xtronic’ continuously variable transmission with shift paddles, a smaller boot, a greater thirst for fuel, output downgrades to 211bhp and 184lb ft, and a car that takes a full second longer to hit 62mph from rest.
All of which seems a rough deal for customers wanting four-wheel drive or the convenience a two-pedal driving experience, and willing to pay Nissan’s hefty £2100 premium.