The governing maxim of the Nismo brand is ‘innovation and excitement for everyone’. It's a fresh take on the performance derivative, for a generation of buyers who first came across Nismo through games such as Sony’s Gran Turismo series. Above all, accessibility is key.
The project included input from Nissan’s design centre in Paddington and its technical centre in Cranfield, but it was signed off in Japan, by Nismo itself. And, like a Ford ST, the Juke Nismo is built on the same production line as its lesser range-mates, to keep its price realistic.
Unlike the Ford Fiesta ST, however, the Juke Nismo is a crossover supermini, complete with raised ride height and esoteric styling. It has stiffer springs and dampers than a standard Juke, as well as 18-inch alloys and a revised steering set-up.
But there has been no drop in ride height, there are no wider tracks, no larger brakes and no saving on kerb weight.
Power comes from Nissan’s 1.6-litre DIG-T four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. Here, the unit gets a 10bhp and 7lb ft peak output hike, making 197bhp and 184lb ft in all, without impacting on emissions; the Juke Nismo emits no more CO2 than a regular 1.6-litre DIG-T. Ostensibly, though, this is still the same engine as used by the Le Mans DeltaWing racer, albeit in a lower state of tune. While the uprated Nismo RS that superceded it received a further 15 bhp, taking its output to 215bhp.
That power goes to the front wheels in the six-speed manual version. There’s also a four-wheel-drive version that runs a stepped, continuously variable transmission.
Outwardly, the usual extended bumpers and side sills distinguish the car, but of much greater impact is the enlarged front air dam, flanked by LED running lights.
Meanwhile, we heartily approve of the red door mirror caps and red pinstripe body trim, both of which are set to become Nismo styling hallmarks.
This is a car that stands out from the crowd.