Nissan markets the Juke as a fun-to-drive crossover and while that is certainly the case, it’s still far from a performance product and the company is hoping to change that.
As you probably know, Nissan already sells a NISMO-tuned version of the Juke that comes with both cosmetic and performance enhancements. A mild power bump to the 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder and marginally stiffer suspension help but it’s sort of like trying to sell someone a BB gun and calling it a 30-06. Lacking a limited-slip differential and still disappointingly light on power, the Juke NISMO delivered on its promises, but it feels like a half-hearted effort at best.
Now, Nissan is offering a few more changes meant to make the Juke a more legitimate performer. It gets yet another mild power bump to make 215 hp in front-wheel drive manual models or 211 with the CVT. A revised exhaust and ECU changes are also meant to help wake the engine up, although it’s still far from its potential when you consider the Delta Wing started with the same unit.
The manual really still is the model to get – perhaps now more than ever – because it comes with a limited-slip differential. The suspension and steering have both been tuned slightly for better performance although even Niki Lauda would probably have a hard time distinguishing the difference. It’s also supposed to be more rigid. There are larger brake rotors in the front and the rear rotors are now vented.
Normal NISMO models come with heavily bolstered sport seats, but in this case Nissan is offering Recaro racing buckets trimmed in read leather and black suede. There’s also an available Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, and the gauge cluster features “RS” lettering. Aside from picking between the front-wheel drive model with a manual or all-wheel drive version only offered with a CVT, a navigation package is the sole option box to check.
With a series of enhancements that address complaints leveled at much of what holds the Juke NISMO back, there’s a chance Nissan’s jacked-up hatchback might actually have some performance credibility. There isn’t long to wait, either. The company expects models to begin arriving in dealerships early next year.
GALLERY: 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS
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