2013 Nissan Juke Nismo
2013 Nissan Juke Nismo. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Justin Mastine-Frost

Every so often a major automaker rolls out a vehicle so odd that it becomes the whipping-boy of car enthusiasts everywhere. Sometimes it’s a prototype that gets rehashed before making it to production like Bentley’s EXP 9 F, or sometimes it may be a production model, such as the hideous tent-carrying Pontiac Aztek.

Either way, these polarizing vehicles wind up as the talk of the town, and in many cases develop a strange yet loyal cult following. This couldn’t be more true when speaking of the Nissan Juke. This car racked up tons of press when it hit the market and is easily considered one of the most polarizing designs to surface in the last decade. My first impressions weren’t the greatest, but as time went on the little atomic frog grew on me, and when Nissan announced that the Nismo edition was heading for production I jumped at the chance to see what tricks they had up their sleeve to give the little weirdo some enthusiast appeal.

For starters, and shout at me all you want, I actually like the look of the Juke. It’s strange as hell, but much like with the Mini Cooper Coupé there’s something about it that just speaks to me. Whether it’s those fat rear haunches, the sharp sloping roofline, or that absolutely peculiar headlight configuration I’m not quite sure, but the Juke just screams originality without being all weird and out of proportion like so many other automotive oddities to surface over the years.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo2013 Nissan Juke Nismo2013 Nissan Juke Nismo2013 Nissan Juke Nismo
2013 Nissan Juke Nismo. Click image to enlarge

That being said the Nismo definitely has the base model beat in the style department, even if it is a little over the top. Packing 191 hp in a relatively small package might warrant a little spoiler action, rather than the full-on front splitter, rear diffuser, rear wing and sideskirts, but from an aesthetic point of view they look all sorts of cool on the Nismo, even if it is a bit of overkill. According to Nissan’s press release, all those components add up to an increase in downforce of 37 percent, though I wonder if all that downforce makes it harder to get it up to speed. Adding red mirror caps to the white exterior with black trim simply adds that final nod of “yes I’m sporty, in case you missed all the other details”.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo2013 Nissan Juke Nismo2013 Nissan Juke Nismo
2013 Nissan Juke Nismo. Click image to enlarge

The interior cabin of the Juke Nismo just as in-your-face as the exterior, but all told, it is equally well executed. For starters, the heavily bolstered front seats are clearly designed to keep the driver in place while hucking the Juke around the twisty bits, but at the same time they’ve got to be the cushiest sport seats I’ve ever sat in. It’s as if someone took a generic Recaro seat frame and padded it with cushions out of a La-Z-Boy recliner. Sure they’re not quite as purpose built as what you see in some high spec sports coupes and sedans, but as far as balancing comfort and control they’ve got it figured out. Nissan decided to go clad a number of interior bits in suede, and other than the suede steering wheel (which I’ve never really understood), it all comes together quite well, especially seeing as though the Nismo isn’t the most expensive option in the Juke lineup. If anything the only item that seems out of place in the entire cockpit is the dark red tachometer in the instrument cluster. As much as it sticks with the other red accents inside and outside the car, I would have expected them to go for either all-red gauges rather than having one stick out like a sore thumb.

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