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Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
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PROS

  • More engaging to drive than the standard Juke
  • Lots of equipment for the price
  • Excellent sports seats

CONS

  • Looks may polarise opinion
  • Not as much fun as a proper hot hatch
  • Will be surpassed by a faster version soon

Verdict

The Nissan Juke has been a surprise hit in the UK - its nonconformist styling and competitive pricing has proven a winning combination. Nissan now aims to capitalise on that success with a hot version offering sharper handling and racier styling – step forward the Nissan Juke Nismo.

Nismo – which is a contraction of ‘Nissan Motorsport’ – is Nissan’s motorsport and tuning division. The brand has a strong following in Japan but is less well-known in Europe, except among computer games fans through its appearance in popular racing games.

First performance version of the Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke Nismo is particularly significant because it’s the first Nismo-badged production car to be sold officially in Europe, kicking off a range of Nismo performance cars including the Nissan 370Z Nismo sports car.

Tying in with its PlayStation-generation brand identity, the Juke Nismo has been kitted out with a go-faster bodykit. This includes sporty front and rear bumpers, wider wheel arches and a rear spoiler. Nissan says the styling is not just for show as the additions have substance, reducing aerodynamic lift at speed.

The cabin has also had a mild makeover to give it a more sporting character, including suede-trimmed sports seats with enhanced sides and Alcantara trim for the steering wheel.

Increased power

Underneath the bulkier bodywork the Nismo is based on the Nissan Juke 1.6 DiG-T Tekna, which is the highest-specification version of the ‘normal’ Juke. The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine has been given a modest 8bhp hike in power for the Nismo, enabling a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 134mph for the front-wheel drive manual version.

There’s also a four-wheel drive automatic Juke Nismo available with marginally slower performance figures, which is expected to sell in smaller numbers than its two-wheel drive stablemate.

Stiffer suspension

To sharpen the Juke’s handling, the Nismo version has been fitted with stiffer suspension and the steering is more precise than before.

Despite its outlandish bodywork the Nismo isn't hugely different from the standard Juke. It doesn’t offer a giant leap in power and performance in the way that, for instance, an AMG Mercedes does over a standard model.

Nissan says the Juke Nismo is all about accessible performance and it is priced accordingly, at less than £2,000 more than the regular Juke Tekna. The relatively mild increase in power means the Juke’s emissions and economy figures remain unchanged, too.

For those looking for a more extreme step in performance there is a faster and more powerful version of the Juke Nismo on its way by the end of 2013. For now though, the Juke Nismo stands as a warm-up act for the European Nismo model line.

Read the full Nissan Juke Nismo review to find out more.

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