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2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Nissan, Test Drives


When it comes to a unique character, the Nissan Juke is no stranger. Despite the Juke’s acquired styling that may find a discriminating love from a select few, it remains to be a competent road-going crossover-like hatchback with an extra splash of sport in the all-new Juke Nismo edition.

Nissan is pushing their Nismo branding to accentuate the unfound performance and enthusiast oriented sides through the unexpected suspect of the Juke. Of course having a Nismo-branded 370Z is an easily digested match, while the Juke, possibly riding off of the heals of the infamous Juke R packed with the GT-R’s drivetrain, brings the fruition of Nissan’s enthusiastic marketing to the forefront in a marketable sense.


The new 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo is no Juke R. However, it takes many styling cues and dashes of sports-appeal from the project Juke R and even gets a bit of extra performance where it really counts using the same 1.6-liter turbo engine the Juke is known for.


Powering the new 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo is a re-tuned 1.6-liter Turbo 4-cylinder engine producing 197 horsepower at 6.000 rpm and 184 ft-lbs. of torque at 2.000 rpm. That is up by 9 horsepower and 7 ft-lbs. of torque over the standard 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder in other Juke trim levels. My Nissan Juke Nismo test vehicle was equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, which is standard equipment for the front-wheel-drive Juke Nismo. The all-wheel-drive version of the Juke Nismo gets a CVT transmission, the only choice available for powering all four wheels.


In terms of performance, the Nissan Juke Nismo has a nice linear power band that really digs in around midrange rpms. The turbo engine does not lag much from idle to the sweet torque spot starting around 2,000 rpm. The 6-speed manual really opens up the ability to extract as much as you can from the engine, which is needed to make the Juke Nismo feel truly alive. 0-60 mph times come in just about even with other front-wheel-drive Juke trim levels with a manual 6-speed taking about 7.5 seconds.  If anything, the power boost is more defined on a piece of paper than on the tarmac.


Road handling for the new Juke Nismo becomes a bit more crisp and predictable over other trims as it has sport suspension, a lowered ride height and sticker summer 18-inch tires wrapping aluminum-alloy wheels painted with a charcoal-bluish-tinted color. Ride comfort can be a somewhat dodgy at times where the stiffened sport suspension emits a slight rebounding bounce over light bumps in the road. The suspension does adapt well to throwing the little Juke Nismo around and surprisingly handles pretty well for being a compact crossover, or hatchback – however you want to slice it.


Some of the other sporty traits of the Juke Nismo pay homage to the Nismo nomenclature, although many of these aspects can be found on other trim levels of the Juke, such as the I-Con system settings accessed through the center-stack dashboard controls. Through this Integrated Control system (I-Con), you are able to select Eco mode, Normal mode and a Sport mode. Each mode adapts the throttle response, steering feel and climate control. In Juke Nismo models equipped with the CVT transmission the I-Con modes also adapt the CVT transmission according to each setting. I found that with my 6-speed manual Juke Nismo the I-Con’s Sport setting was a bit aggressive in throttle response to the point that maintaining a constant highway speed was virtually impossible. Nonetheless, Sport mode added just the right amount of steering wheel firmness for a simulation of additional road-feel. Normal mode seemed to resolve the throttle sensitivity but noticeably lightened the steering. Eco mode simply makes the throttle feel mushy and delayed just to benefit fuel savings, which is surprisingly a constant variable in the new Juke Nismo. I saw a steady 24.6 mpg in the city while rowing through the gears in heavy traffic. On the highway I saw an average of 29.1 mpg and was only able to get the EPA estimated 31 mpg at speeds of 65 mph and below. The city EPA estimated mpg for the new Juke Nismo 6-speed manual stands at 25 mpg.

Over-all, the Juke Nismo’s road-going abilities prove to be fun and assuring. The Juke Nismo is a vehicle that you would not mind taking to an occasional autocross, if you don’t mind the cheeky comments you may get from your enthusiast-based peanut gallery of friends – mostly mocking the exterior styling of the Juke.


On the subject of the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo’s styling, it is most certainly an acquired taste for the majority of ‘sane’ enthusiasts and the common onlooker. The addition of Nismo aesthetics on the exterior of the Juke really spices up things much like placing desirable condiments on a spoiled food. From a reasonable distance things look okay, but up close you find something that will inevitably be hard to digest. It is not to say the Juke Nismo is out-right ugly, it just has a select crowd that chooses to appreciate its uniqueness just like a child that has a face only a mother could love.


Adding to the Juke Nismo’s distinctive character, the exterior gets bright LED running lights mounted within the re-sculpted lower front bumper air dams while an accented red stripe runs through the lower front bumper lines, lower side skirt area and ends within the finned rear diffuser. The huge headlights remain on the Juke Nismo as well as the odd blinker housings, which work well to guide your line of sight to the left painted lines of the road, or a track depending on how adventurous you are. A rear spoiler hovering over the smallish rear hatch window caps off the Juke Nismo’s departed character from rest of the Juke trims. At the rear you will find a rather large exhaust muffler with a large tip, which you may never really notice audibly inside of the cabin.

On the inside, considering the new Nissan Juke Nismo is the highest trim level of the Juke line, it is packed with the SV trim’s list of standard features. In addition to the standard SV trim features; the Juke Nismo gets its own unique Nismo gauges, Nismo front seats with thick bolstering, Nismo shift knob, and an Alcantara & Leather-wrapped steering wheel that fits your hands like a glove.


The front seats proved to be extra supportive with supple bolstering that did not bite down into your kidneys too hard but still provided more than enough lateral support for the Juke Nismo’s handling abilities. The driving position was optimal with enough adjustability for folks slightly over 6-feet tall. Conversely, space remains to be cramped inside of the Juke where the rear seats are a tight squeeze for adults but are ideal for toddlers or a couple of large bags. The rear cargo space is also short on space with only 10.5 cubic feet.

Making the new 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo an attractive sports package, something that may not be possible visually, is the pricing starting at just $22,990. My test vehicle added on the navigation package (5-inch color LCD touch screen, XM NavTraffic, Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio w/ Subwoofer, USB connectivity, RearView Monitor $1,170), Nismo carpeted floor mats and cargo mat ($215) and a cloth and accent-stitched center armrest ($245).  Loaded up with these options plus a $790 destination charge it brought my test vehicle to a price tag of $25,410.  It is safe to say that the Juke Nismo 6-speed manual is the sure way to go for enthusiasts who do not mind being the odd one out in the good looking bunch of other enthusiastic hatchbacks on the market. When it comes down to explaining your choice to friends, it can be expressed as your eccentric expression of your zealous demeanor. Good thing is the Nismo branding takes the guessing work out of finding aftermarket accessories that do not take away from the Juke’s “eyebrow-raising looks”.

Copyright: 2013


  • Price: Base Nissan Juke NISMO $22,990.00 / As-Tested Juke NISMO $25,410 including $790.00 destination charge
  • Engine: 1.6 liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged/intercooled, 16-valve DOHC aluminum inline 4-cylinder engine  197hp @ 5,000 rpm / 184 lb.ft. of torque @ 2,000-5,200 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 99.6 inches
  • Total length: 162.4 inches
  • Total width: 69.5 inches
  • Total height: 61.8 inches
  • Track: f/r-60/60 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-39.6/36.7 inches
  • Legroom: f/r-42.1/32.1 inches
  • Cargo volume: 10.5 behind 2nd row/35.9 cu.ft. behind front seats
  • Curb weight: 2,930 pounds
  • Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
  • Turning circle: 36.4 ft.
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 25 mpg city / 31 mpg highway (6-speed manual FWD)

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