June 6, 2014
2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jacob Black
My name is Jacob Black, and I adore the Juke NISMO RS.
To love a Juke NISMO RS is to know, with all your heart and soul that you are wrong. Totally, completely, and utterly wrong – and stand your ground anyway.
The reasons why I love the Nissan Juke NISMO RS may not resonate with most buyers. In fact, they will probably not even resonate with most people who buy a standard Juke. But they are powerful reasons nonetheless.
Reasons that will turn this car into a cult classic. To love a Juke Nismo RS is to ignore its numerous shortcomings. To self-indoctrinate a sense of superiority and evangelical devotion that would make the most hipsterish Hipster to ever don a tweed coat feel like a mainstream shill.
Nissan’s Juke in regular guise is blessed with the sort of styling that could end relationships… “You like that thing? I feel like I don’t even know you anymore…” But clad in NISMO aerokit and shod with 18×7-inch alloys the Juke loses any sense of dorkiness and adopts a tough, edgy demeanour. Short story – it looks hot, and is probably the reason some people can’t decide if they like the Juke or not.
With its dramatic sloped-back roofline, bulging flares and razor-back LED running lights a sleeping Juke looks like it’s about to leap forward and eat you. The hidden rear door handles further the “I’m a coupe, honest!” design and the roof spoiler ups the street cred. The whole car oozes cheerful aggression. Like it would smile at you and tell you jokes while it ate you. Maybe I’m wrong, but I like that.
The seats of the Juke NISMO RS, however, are definitely not wrong. They are beyond right. Alcantara and leather masterpieces with thick bolsters and the right amount of width to accommodate just about every frame greet you when you slide into the Juke. Okay, you don’t slide so much as climb in over the very deep thigh supports – but the feeling is incredible. They feel as good as they look, and they look amazing. The suede-like alcantara inserts also offer grip, further helping keep you in place.
The steering wheel is also wrapped in leather with alcantara inserts at 9 and 3 – just like the amazing 2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S-Model 4Matic Wagon tested by Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony in March. It even has a red stripe to help locate the centre – just like a real race car.
The design exercise doesn’t stop there. The instrument cluster is fitted with an intricate, suede-like covered hood, there are intriguing but thoroughly pointless bulges in the shift-lever surround and there is even a g-force meter in the centre stack.
2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS dashboard & Recaro front seats. Click image to enlarge
Why? Who cares why, it is awesome, that is why! At least that’s the title of the photo essay I’ve included at the bottom of this page. At this point, the hardcore, die-hard car enthusiasts of this site will be screaming at me through their screens – “You must be joking?!” I am of course – well kind of.
All these things are ridiculous and pointless and frivolous and wrong – and I love them.
When you first sit in the Juke NISMO RS you feel like you’re behind the wheel of a racecar. I could see myself tackling a rally or a Baja in this thing. Even the profile with its high roofline over the front row looks like it was designed to house a helmeted driver. It’s an engaging, endearing experience that will make those who fall for such tricks (like me) completely fall in love with the car.
Despite the NISMO tuning and the race-inspired interior however, the Juke is not a race car. My Dad would say it’s “all show and no go”. That’s not entirely accurate because the NISMO is a decent little performer, but there is more promise than prowess here.
2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS instrument hood, gauges, shifter, G-force graph. Click image to enlarge
In fact, my three-year-old daughter summed up the main drama with the Juke perfectly. “This race car is too big and high Daddy,” – I beamed with pride.
The exhaust, while large, is not loud and has no real growl to it. The result is complete surprise when you stomp on the throttle to ignite the 1.6L turbocharged inline four and it erupts into torque steer. With 215 hp at 6,000 rpm and 210 lb-ft of torque between 3,600 – 4,800 rpm you might expect it to take time to wind up and generate torque steer, but this little mill spools up readily, and the gearing is short enough that the 3,600 rpm threshold arrives mighty soon.
It’s surprising to me that in 2014 you would need to wrestle any car back into compliance after taking off in a straight line – let alone one with a 1.6L engine – but the NISMO RS requires strong forearms.