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Power Juke: Nissan Juiced

By Arv Voss, November 9th, 2013

The Nissan Juke sporty crossover competes with traditional compact hatchbacks. The name Juke comes is a sports term -- to juke -- or to catch the opponent off-guard, enhancing a personal competitive advantage. Juke definitely does it with a vengeance.

Manufacturer photo: The Nissan Juke features bold styling, acclaimed levels of performance and an available advanced torque vectoring AWD system with performance technology often reserved for premium vehicles
Manufacturer photo: The Nissan Juke features bold styling, acclaimed levels of performance and an available advanced torque vectoring AWD system with performance technology often reserved for premium vehicles

Juke is bold and athletic in appearance, while combining the best qualities of a sporty sedan and SUV, blending them in an innovative design form that delivers efficiency and driving fun in an affordable package. The Juke displays a basically conventional styling approach, until you look at the front end. That's where the conventionality ends.

Its raised directional signals rest atop the fenders. In what appears to be grossly oversized foglamps actually happen to be the headlights. The actual foglamps are recessed deeply into the leading lower diffuser, almost hidden from view.

The Juke's profile is almost coupe-like with its blacked-out B-pillar and rearward sloping roofline. Wheel wells are emphatically pronounced by large fender-like bulges.

The interior provides a high shift point in the center console, placed within what resembles a motorcycle tank mounted console. Seating is both comfortable and supportive with the second row split into a 60/40 configuration that folds flat to provide a large cargo floor, adding to Juke's versatility and functionality.

Manufacturer photo: The Nissan Juke features bold styling, acclaimed levels of performance and an available advanced torque vectoring AWD system with performance technology often reserved for premium vehicles

Our tester, the Juke NISMO, serves up a unique style in an attainable performance package born from motorsports. It is the fourth model in the Juke stable.

The Juke NISMO comes with a race-inspired interior that delivers improved aerodynamic performance, along with a NISMO-tuned steering and transmission aiding drivers in engaging enhanced driving dynamics. The NISMO vision and name is derived from NISsan MOtorsports.

The Juke NISMO, with its track-derived design, enhanced performance and engaging handling, gives Juke consumers a distinct choice among the affordable S, well-equipped SV and premium SL grades of the popular crossover. Pricing starts at $18,990.

When compared to the standard Nissan Juke, the most obvious visual change is to the front fascia and grille, modified to better control airflow to the engine. The new front end features a lower and more aggressive design. Juke's familiar integrated foglamps are replaced by thin-strip LED accent lights. Increasing the Juke NISMO's visual stance, the wheel arches are now finished entirely in the body color and are more muscular.

In the powertrain department, both power and torque have been increased without compromising emissions and efficiency for use in the Juke NISMO, which is rated at 197 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, versus the standard Juke's 188 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. The FWD Juke NISMO is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission that features three boost modes: Normal, Sport and Eco. The AWD version comes with a sport-tuned version of Nissan's advanced Xtronic CVT with manual mode.

Manufacturer photo: The Nissan Juke features bold styling, acclaimed levels of performance and an available advanced torque vectoring AWD system with performance technology often reserved for premium vehicles

Suspension componentry consists of independent MacPherson struts up front with a 23 mm stabilizer bar, and a torsion beam (FWD) and a multi-link (AWD) setup in the rear, also with stabilizer bar.

Juke NISMO's enhanced 1.6-liter motor delivers plenty of punch for a four-cylinder and the 6-speed manual gearbox delivers a high fun factor.

Handling characteristics are spot-on and the ride quality, though firm and planted, is not uncomfortable. The Juke NISMO is sure to attract sports-oriented consumers who enjoy spirited driving characteristics in a well-equipped, high-performance, yet affordable and value-laden package.

Admittedly, the Juke NISMO's unusual design won't appeal to everyone's taste, but for those looking for a fun-to-drive ride that won't break the bank, check out the 2014 NISMO version Juke.

Specifications

Base price $22,990 (as tested: $25,195)
Curb weight 2,930 lbs.
Displacement 1.6-liter
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 197 at 6000 rpm
Motor type 16-valve turbo 4-cyl. w/DIG
Overall length 163.8 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 184 at 2000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact CUV
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