The way the Juke Nismo RS goes down the road smacks damningly of overcompensation.
Somewhere between the softer and more civilised handling tune of the old Juke Nismo and the heavy-weighted, hyperactive set-up of this RS is the perfect dynamic compromise for a car that will inevitably suffer for its relatively high roll axis. Far from hitting that bullseye, the RS ends up missing it by a considerably wider margin than the original Nismo.
There’s just no pragmatism – little apparent acknowledgement of Newtonian physics, even – about the way this car has been configured. You can feel the unforgiving firmness of the car’s spring rates and anti-roll settings in the excessive and unhelpful weight of the steering before you’ve hardly turned a wheel.
And all in order to wage a futile war on body movement that the car was fated to lose the instant Nismo decided not to sacrifice a bigger chunk of its crossover ride height for this ultimate performance version.
Ultimately the Juke Nismo RS rolls on its long springs to relatively pronounced angles when you lean on it, just as the Juke Nismo did. The firm coils keep roll rate quite low, but they also serve to affect your confidence in the remaining grip level because you’re never quite sure at which point the car has finally settled in a steady cornering state.
Moreover, the traction problem described in the previous section becomes greatly exacerbated the moment you turn the steering wheel off the straight-ahead. The car transfers its weight to its outside wheels very quickly indeed, and to such an extent that little more than half throttle will often cause wheelspin in a second or third gear corner. That, in turn, brings about unwanted understeer.
It’s at this point you’ll realise that helical limited-slip diffs are no miracle cure. They maximise traction, sure, but they can’t create it out of thin air. So while you’ll feel its presence feeding back interference through the steering and making the car more directionally sensitive on the overrun, the LSD is of little help in keeping the front wheels glued to your intended line under power.
The car’s ride on typical British roads is agitated and reactive. It’s not especially noisy or harsh, but it’s wearing all the same. Much more disappointing is that while the RS is responsive and apparently agile in a fairly superficial sense at low speeds, the car simply doesn’t grip the asphalt hard enough when pressed, or generally come to heel obediently enough, to justify its otherwise demanding temperament.