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What is it?
Another success story for the UK car industry: a new kind of hot hatch we can lay claim to as our own. The Nissan Juke
Nismo is the go-faster performance version of the smash-hit
supermini-sized crossover. More than a third of a million Jukes have
been built at Nissan's Sunderland plant (now officially the largest car
plant this country has ever seen) since 2010, and now the plant has a
flagship performance model to produce.The Juke Nismo is not just
built in Britain; a significant amount of design and development for the
model has taken place here, with Nissan's Paddington design studio and
Cranfield technical centre assisting Nissan and Nismo engineers in
Japan.The result of this collaboration is a 197bhp 1.6-litre
turbocharged petrol-powered Juke, with a host of revisions to the
chassis and exterior and interior styling to make it worthy of the
hallowed Nismo badge.That Nismo badge also needs an introduction.
Short for Nissan Motorsports, Nismo has been tuning Nissans and
producing highly successful factory race cars for the best part of 50
years and has become enshrined in popular culture thanks to its presence
in the Gran Turismo video games, the first of which appeared in 1997.The
thinking behind taking Nismo global now with volume products rather
than high-performance niche models or aftermarket upgrades is that the
Playstation generation has now grown up and, as now as a 20/30-something
with a disposable income, has the funds to buy a car of their own, and a
£19,995 compact crossover take on the hot hatch formula seems a good
place to start for Nismo.

What is it like?
Something a bit different, but something that's really rather
good. It's certainly the best and most involving Juke we've ever had to
try, but it's a model that goes quite a bit deeper than that in being a
very different kind of performance tool. Think of the Juke Nismo in terms of a Renaultsport Clio
and sure enough it ends in disappointment. But it's a hot hatch that if
driven quickly and smoothly at seven or eight tenths, and without ever
really fully going for it in Michael Schumacher mode (ie, most of the
driving you'll ever undertake on public roads) then it is a very
accomplished and rewarding machine. Oh, and there's room for four and a
fair amount of luggage, too.Let's start with that engine. Nismo
tuners have resisted the urge to turn the Juke Nismo into a torque steer
special, rather offering small but noticeable increases in power and
torque that give it an altogether more urgent character without
descending into an aftermarket special.The engine does have
somewhat of a torque vacuum before the turbocharger fully gets involved
at around 2000-2500rpm, but keep it above this and you'll find an urgent
performer with pleasingly linear power delivery right through its six
forward manual cogs. That urgency is still felt even when settled at
motorway speeds, so a taller sixth ratio would be appreciated in this
scenario. An all-wheel drive version hooked up to a CVT transmission is
also available.The ride is firm, but never uncomfortable; it
feels as if great time and attention has been spent to cater for the
most demanding UK buyers. Body control is excellent also, and the
predictable body roll is well controlled, certainly when you drive
within the car's limits.Push the limits and you'll get understeer
and front wheels that slip and spin, but to drive the Juke Nismo on
such a ragged edge is to miss the point; it's a car to be driven quickly
and smoothly to get the most from it, rather than to rag the hell out
of it and be left wondering why you didn't order that Renaultsport Clio.
It is not that type of car.Where the Juke Nismo feels
sufficiently sporty is inside the cabin. There are new sports seats
which grip well and will give you a numb bum if sat in for long enough.
The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and red and black-trimmed cabin are
subtler mods but no less welcome, in a cabin where the real star is a
new infotainment system mounted in the centre console that does a lot
better job than the £19,995 price tag would have you think given its lis
of standard functions.

Should I buy one?
Like the Juke? Then yes. The Nismo is the best Juke we've ever
driven, certainly the most rewarding and now competitive and unique
enough for you to consider whether you need to buy a hot hatch and
except the sacrifices that usually entails (rear room, space etc).The
looks will probably still be the deciding factor here for you, but warm
to them or see through them and you have a dynamic machine that's ever
so rewarding when driven within its limits quickly and smoothly, if not
one that'll give you as much satisfaction as a full-blown hot hatch in
the Renaultsport Clio mould.Nissan Juke NismoPrice £19,995; 0-62mph 7.8sec; Top speed 134mph; Economy 40.9mpg CO2 159g/km; Kerb weight 1295kg; Engine 4cyls in line, 1618cc, turbocharged, petrol, Power 197bhp; Torque 184lb ft; Gearbox 6spd manual
 
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