Words and Photos: Kevin C. Limjoco
Got your attention? No, I didn’t necessarily mean that the new 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO only kills Suzuki Samurais, it does way more than that, but you would be surprised with some of their parallels. Both little, versatile cars have excellent visibility with a commanding view of its frontal target, both use 1.6-liter engines, both are very light and agile, both can carry technically 5 squashed adults with a usable easy access trunk. Their intended roles depart starkly after that; the Samurai is an excellent Billie-goat on trails while the Juke NISMO loves to attack the tarmac full on! The standard Juke was already a compelling micro crossover, but the almost 100 updates applied on the new NISMO variant simply catapults it to another class. Wonderfully, most of the upgrades are functional too. For example, the new extroverted bodywork actually increases downforce by as much as 37% beyond 120 km/h for enhanced high-speed stability.
Our sapphire-black Juke NISMO test unit was a front wheel drive managed by a slick manual 6-speed transmission. Unfortunately, that setup can only be packaged with a rear torsion-beam suspension system, so despite the generous NISMO-tuning, the rear end does hop about at the limit and lacks that added measure of corning grip. To be rewarded with the independent rear multi-link setup, you will have to pay more for the AWD, which naturally weighs more as well and negates the clear advantage. Now if you’re inclined to not shift on your own, Nissan also offers a CVT. Regardless how Nissan spins it, and how insistent they were with the use of CVT transmission across their model range, I am repulsed by them because of their lifeless response and power-sucking characteristics. Sure it’s a no-brainer/no driver-effort solution but they always seem to function like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders in the process. I will only accept that mode of transmission and their Leaf products where it is appropriate.
Once again, the Juke NISMO stands out in the crowd in its segment, not just for its extroverted looks but also because it offers some unique interior features like the Integrated Control (I-CON) system serves as a central command center that shows the different functions toggled by the driver. For example, in Climate mode, the display shows the interior temperatue settings while the “buttons” display air flow preferences. In “D-Mode,” the buttons change to the three driving modes and the display shows engine and drive-related dials and information like G-force and boost. Nissan boldly and humorously claims that the center console is “inspired by the radical lines of an Italian G-Force and boost. So, mount up and ride. No helmet required!” Even their print and digital brochures strongly suggest the Ducati inspiration.
Key new highlights in the Juke NISMO are: a) the blood red tachometer, which is a nice design touch as it contrasts with the rest of the instrument panel. b) I loved the feel and connectivity of the Leather and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel with the red center mark. c) The Pounding Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH audio system d) The distinctive and grippy18-inch, lightweight aluminum alloys with 225/45R18 Continental COntiSportCOntact5 summer tires. f) The NISMO suspension g) Most importantly, the extra bump in power to 197 horsepower and 184 lb ft of torque. That may not sound like a big jump, but in reality, I found myself looking for every possible opportunity to wring out all the extra fun. The instrumented results don’t lie either, from 0-100 km/h, the standard car accomplished it in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of a very strained and drag limited 203 km/h. This Juke NISMO ripped through the same exercise in 6.6 seconds and topped out at a very stable 223 km/h! To be honest, with all the upgrades the Juke NISMO is actually quicker, more agile, and more versatile than a Peugeot 208 GTi! It’s our hope that once the dust settles with the Nissan Philippines integration, that this model, and so much more along with Infiniti, will finally come to our shores in a triumphant return to form and function.
Engine: Inline-4, 1618 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, CVTCS, 6-speed MT
Max power: 197 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque: 184 lb ft @ 2000-5200 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 6.6 sec
Top Speed (mph): 223 km/h (139 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 25 mpg City / 31 mpg highway
Price as Tested: US$ 25,195.00
+ A genuine alternative to the current Mini Cooper S, very fun, almost 100 updates come with extra moniker
– Missing HID headlights, can still be twitchy, and extroverted appearance may not appeal to many
C! Editor’s Rating: 9.5/10