By Patrick James on 2016-09-17 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Nissan Juke Nismo RS
THE Nissan Juke, just like its stablemate the top-selling Qashqai, has been something of a surprise package with runaway sales in the booming crossover market.
Nissan says the Juke has attracted a huge number of buyers who are new to the brand. As much as 82 per cent of sales have been to first-time Nissan owners.
It's look is very much in the eye of the beholder with some not at all keen on the frog-eyed look, but in the main the individual, off-beat design has been well received.
Despite being a compact crossover/SUV, Nissan has succumbed to temptation to produce muscled-up version with the Nismo RS.
Now the latest version of the firecrackers has had its power tweaked by 18ps, to a powerful 218ps which delivers blistering performance.
The 1.6 petrol engine powers the car from 0-60mph in just seven seconds, proper hot hatch performance, although with its high stance and not-very-dynamic shape, it does no really look like a hot hatch.
Admittedly, the look is enhanced with red brake calipers and discreet ‘RS' badging on the front and rear. In addition it adds rear spoiler, lower front and rear bumpers, wider wings and sill side skirts, plus a dark chrome 'V-motion' grille.
Other sporting touches include red door mirror caps, new LED daytime running lights and eye-catching18-inch alloy wheels.
The sporty look and performance is topped off with a retuned exhaust system providing a sportier engine note thanks to a large diameter exhaust silencer.
Inside, the RS logo appears in the rev counter while a distinctive suede wrap covers the instrument binnacle. The interior is finished in grey cloth trim, with black headliner. Four adults are seated in comfort and headroom is surprisingly good.
The crossover offers also smartphone connectivity with access to a variety of apps ranging from social media platforms to entertainment - including internet radio - through a large, 5.8-inch colour touchscreen on the dashboard which also controls other major functions. It also doubles as a monitor for the newest version of Nissan's Around View Monitor which gives a complete real-time 360 degree ‘helicopter' view around the car to make manoeuvring as safe and easy as possible.
Handling is bound to be compromised when compared to a standard hot hatch, but a strengthened body structure, bigger brakes, revised spring and damper settings and limited slip differential as standard on the two wheel drive version means you are hard pressed to detect the difference.
In fact the slightly elevated ride height is helpful for all round vision when racing around bends. Otherwise, it feel composed and docile when pottering around town.
Economy is not bad either with 39.2mpg claimed and relatively decent carbon emissions of 168g/km, although fuel economy is probably not a major factor however for buyers of this model.
Performance is dynamic and it is a great ride, aided by responsive steering, while the form-fitting sports seats keep you firmly in place.
But this is still a crossover and practicality still counts. The shape of the boot has increased in two-wheel drive models by 40 per cent, taking the overall capacity to 354 litres. The flat folding rear seat and a two stage floor in the boot also also allows for the carriage of larger objects.
Nissan Juke Nismo RS
Mechanical: 218ps 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 137mph
0-62mph: 7 seconds
Combined MPG: 39.2
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 168g/km
Bik rating: 30%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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