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Nissan Juke NISMO - A Closer Look

I couldn't help but remember the less than worthy cars Chevy put the SS moniker on in the mid 2000's. The Cobalt SS and Traiblazer SS were great performance cars in their respective classes but the Malibu and Impala simply weren't. Nissan seems to want to cash in on the NISMO name the same way Chevy did with the SS moniker - by making more NISMO models. This is even worse, though, because of fact that the SS had an even longer heritage that is harder to tarnish with a couple of bad models. Here's the first example: the Nissan Juke NISMO. It will start at $23,780 for a FWD with a manual and $26,080 or an AWD with a CVT ($24,998 and $28,478 in Canada).

So what is more sporty about this NISMO model? Well, you get a whopping 9 hp over the run-of-the-mill Jukes. On the outside, you still get the polarizing body but with a racy "aerodynamic body kit" (according to the website) and 18" wheels wrapped in Continental ContiSportContact5 tires that are 10 mm wider than the rest of the Juke trims. The package is available with FWD or AWD and a 6-speed manual or CVT automatic, but it's not that simple. If you want a manual to avoid the fun-killing CVT, you're stuck with FWD and it doesn't have a limited slip differential. If you want to avoid the FWD with an open differential, you're stuck with a CVT. You do get NISMO shocks and springs that are 10% stiffer and the body kit is supposed to be good for a 37% increase in downforce, although owners probably won't be going fast enough to take advantage of that.

I'm not sure what the point of this car is. The Juke isn't a sales success because the exterior has a love-it-or-hate-it design and (unfortunately for Nissan) it's a hate-it for most people. The ground clearance isn't enough to make it a useful off-roader and the NISMO is even lower. The body style makes it less useful than a sub-compact hatchback like the Chevy Sonic, with both the seats up or down. The Chevy Sonic has 19.0 cu.ft. behind the second row of seats and 47.7 cu.ft of cargo space with the seats folded down vs 10.5 cu.ft and 35.9 cu.ft. for the Juke. It's stuck somewhere between a crossover and a hatchback that makes it less useful than either (i.e. taking the cons of each class and leaving the pros). The NISMO treatment is far from sporty enough to attract new customers to the Juke or build more credibility for the NISMO name, which will be applied to more models in the future. What purpose does it serve?

When Motor Trend reviewed it, they also struggled to find a purpose for it. They suggested that for "those buyers who love the Juke despite its quirkiness, the NISMO variant gives them a sportier option" with a sporty bodykit, a hint of added performance and an affordable price. So there you go, the Juke NISMO is for those who already love and buy the Juke but would appreciate a new trim with a (very) little hint of added sportiness in looks and feel. They would have to overlook cars like the Ford Focus ST, the upcoming Fiesta ST and other hot hatches on the market, though.

Source: Nissan