Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbocharged 1.6L I4
Power:
197 HP /184 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,930 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
10.5 / 35.9 CU-FT
MPG:
25 City / 31 HWY
Base Price:
$23,780
Scratching All The Right Itches



Say what you will about the unconventional aesthetics that Nissan employed on the company's Juke. I love the thing. The universe has no shortage of ambiguously styled CUVs, and while I can't exactly say I would have turned to the amphibian world for design inspiration had it been me with the charcoal in my hand, I can certainly appreciate the fact that the Juke isn't just another box-on-box design.

And then there's that engine. The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder under the hood is one of the best powerplants in the company's toy box, offering plenty of low-range torque and comical levels of thrust. Hell, it even makes the optional continuously variable transmission tolerable. Praise be to the deities of forced induction. But something has always been missing from the mix. From the first moment I got my hands on the Juke, I couldn't help but think how much better the machine would be if Nissan ditched an inch or two of ground clearance and sharpened up its suspension. Think more "hot hatch" and less "Kermit goes to Kroger."

I wasn't the only one with that notion. The minds at Nismo were keen to turn their attentions to the Juke, and while the resulting 2013 Juke Nismo isn't the hardcore machine I'd seen in my dreams, it may very well be the best trim available for the runabout.
2013 Nissan Juke Nismo side view2013 Nissan Juke Nismo front view2013 Nissan Juke Nismo rear view

Nissan is keen to make American buyers more aware of the Nismo name.

Nissan is keen to make American buyers more aware of the Nismo name and what the performance arm stands for, and the Juke Nismo is the first step in that effort. Designers and engineers started by giving the machine a full aerodynamic overhaul, complete with redesigned front and rear fascias and side skirts. Up front, that means a more dramatic lower lip with LED daytime running lights tucked into the front vents set at each corner. A red accent line races its way around the hatch's lower regions, but the really interesting part is that Nismo claims the bits help generate a 37-percent improvement in downforce over the standard Juke.

Down the flanks, it's hard to miss the contrasting metallic red side-view mirrors or those massive 18-inch wheels, clad in Continental ContiSportContact5 summer performance tires. Step around back and the Juke Nismo delivers a new rear diffuser with design influence from the 370Z as well as a larger-diameter exhaust finished in chrome. The result is a machine that looks unmistakably more purposeful and less playful without being overwrought. Well, more overwrought. I dig it.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo grille2013 Nissan Juke Nismo fog light2013 Nissan Juke Nismo wheel2013 Nissan Juke Nismo taillight

While a lower, more hardcore Juke certainly isn't off the table, cost was an issue this go around.

Technically, the Juke Nismo is slightly lower than its standard-trim brethren, though the figure isn't substantial. Much of the apparent drop comes from the lower body kit, fender flares and bigger wheels. According to Jeff Skalisky, a product planner with the Juke program, lowering the vehicle any further meant subjecting the model to the complete battery of federal tests required of a new vehicle. Those tests could cost millions of dollars. Skalisky says that, while a lower, more hardcore Juke certainly isn't off the table, cost was an issue this go around.

Indoors, the Juke Nismo offers a substantially updated interior. The driver gets to toss around a sport steering wheel with Alcantara grips, black leather and red contrast stitching. There's even a red leather band at 12 o'clock just like some of our favorite aftermarket bits. That same motif makes its way to the leather shift knob, but the biggest improvement comes to the fronts seats. Nissan ditched the standard thrones in favor of comfy, heavily bolstered buckets with suede trim. With Nismo embroidery on the backs and matching red stitching, these seats are excellent. You won't find anything else like them in this class.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo interior2013 Nissan Juke Nismo seat detail2013 Nissan Juke Nismo gauges2013 Nissan Juke Nismo badge

Despite the ride height, this CUV wants to be flung around corners.

Despite the substantial aesthetic adjustments inside and out, the driveline remains largely unchanged. Expect to find a small nudge in power – up to 197 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque from the base 188 hp and 177 lb-ft. The bump is thanks to a little ECU tweaking as the intake and exhaust hardware remain unchanged from the standard model. The Juke Nismo does offer a retuned electric power steering system, and models equipped with the CVT will enjoy a sportier "shift pattern" that will hold gear ratios longer between each step.

Engineers saw fit to serve up springs and dampers that are 10-percent stiffer all the way around for a slightly sportier feel, though we think the larger wheels and stickier tires have as much to do with the added grip and change in ride as the compressible bits. On the road, the Juke Nismo feels slightly sharper than the base model. There's still plenty of body roll to be had, but the standard Juke has always been a blast to throw around despite that fact. The extra little tweaks found on the Nismo only make that sensation ring more true. Despite the ride height, this CUV wants to be flung around corners.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo engine

Nissan hasn't positioned the Juke Nismo at the top of the model's trim range.

The manual gearbox serves up decent shift feel but can only be had in the front-wheel-drive configuration. Throw in the aforementioned body roll and trying to accelerate out of a turn will see the Juke Nismo gladly shuffle all the power to the inside wheel with the least grip. While watching the inside tire go all smoke show is fun, it isn't all that effective helping you get out of a turn quickly. This machine deserves an honest limited slip differential up front. Opting for all-wheel drive takes care of that issue, but saddles the buyer with the CVT.

The big saving grace here is that Nissan hasn't positioned the Juke Nismo at the top of the model's trim range, slotting instead just below the SL trim. Buyers can expect to pay $22,990 (excluding a $790 destination fee) for the machine in front-wheel-drive configuration with a manual transmission, or around $1,800 less than the equivalent top-trim SL. Stepping up to all-wheel drive sees the Juke Nismo's price swell to $25,290, which is still $700 less than the SL. Sure, the SL trim serves up leather seats and a sunroof option, but Nismo guise is both more attractive and the better driver, making it the Goldilocks of the Juke stable. Buyers can find the car on dealer lots now.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo rear 3/4 view

The Nismo may not be the Mazdaspeed3-rivaling hatch I'd love to see from the Juke line, but it is a step in the right direction. And, since Nissan isn't shy about letting the world know more Nismo hardware is on the horizon, we can be happy that this isn't the last word in performance products from the company. We're promised that more good things are coming.

If you like the Juke Nismo, check out our recent First Drive of the 545-hp Juke-R.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 125 Comments
      Brandon S
      • 1 Year Ago
      A couple of things about this: 1) This would have better as a car. An AWD hot hatch with a lower center of gravity, lower weight, and just as much power? YES PLEASE. 2) The two downsides to this vehicle as is: No heated seats, summer tires on all versions, even the AWD version. Most people buying the AWD/CVT model are doing so because they live in the snow belt, they don't want to buy an extra set of tires and definitely don't care about the extra grip the summer tires grant you. Throw in some seat heaters and all seasons on the AWD model, and you'd sell more as a hot hatch alternative.
      Jay-Zeus
      • 1 Year Ago
      I test drove a Juke last year and was fairly satisfied overall with the vehicle. I didn't care for the interior and the Nismo fixed that pretty well. It is a small vehicle though, the rear seats are not suitable for adults.
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not as sinister as the Juke R but certainly got some flair, I like it. A bit off topic but for the love of god Nissan why do you not offer the IMPUL kits for the new Versa sedan and upcoming Versa Note through US dealerships like you do in Nissan dealerships in overseas markets. We Versa owners are craving these kits so badly: http://www.impul.co.jp/index_topE.html
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cruising
        [blocked]
          Cruising
          • 1 Year Ago
          You would be surprised, there is a rather large group.
      k_m94
      • 1 Year Ago
      For something that isnt even the most expensive Juke, nor likely the highest performance variant, pretty sure this is all welcome news. More power, much better looks due to decent sized wheels and a subtle bodykit, sharper handling, better interior and seats, still cheaper than the SL. Now, if Nissan could just forget their CVT and put any other kind of transmission with the AWD, it could be manual, DCT, even an automatic, then I'm pretty sure interest would skyrocket, at least from the hot hatch demographic. The best CVT in the world is still going to feel weird and disconcerting to most even if it nets better fuel economy and can aid acceleration, which it usually doesnt. So stop making people choose between the transmission they want (manual) and the drivetrain they want (AWD), because they will just choose another better looking car instead.
        AnalogJesse
        • 1 Year Ago
        @k_m94
        This is the truth. I would have been interested in an AWD Juke with a manual transmission, but I ended up with a WRX instead. Sorry Nissan.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @k_m94
        [blocked]
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @k_m94
        this article lack some very important information on the CVT, this CVT behaves and act like tradition transmission. Add a bespoke aerodynamics package and revised chassis design and you have a driving experience which takes Juke thrills to the next level. Two models - front-wheel-drive with a six-speed manual transmission and an all-wheel drive with CVT and 7-speed manual mode - are available, with every Nissan Juke Nismo benefitting from a motorsport-inspired interior packed with innovative technology. NDCS Nissan Dynamic Control System (NDCS) The Nissan Juke Nismo offers further control through Nissan Dynamic Control System (NDCS). This advanced central command system allows the driver to alter the car's dynamic settings as well as make changes to everyday functions including climate control. The centrally mounted digital screen changes display, colour and functions depending on the mode selected by the driver. Settings alter throttle maps, steering effort and CVT shift schedules on the 4WD Nissan Juke Nismo. In the D-Mode Sport setting, the throttle map is retuned to deliver higher engine revs and sharper responses, while in the Eco setting, engine revs are reduced for more gentle progress. In the M-CVT version of the DIG-T engine Juke, the Sport setting even introduces a 'rhythmic' auto up shift that simulates manual changes at the red-line. Steering effort in Sport is firmer and more responsive, while in Normal it's lighter and more linear. In the Eco setting, the quantity of cold air circulating in the cabin is optimised, reducing the load on the climate control and lowering the system's power consumption. Real time trip information can also be displayed giving average speed, fuel economy, journey times and engine torque and turbo boost as well as a daily fuel consumption history. The system even incorporates a G-Force indicator. http://www.netcarshow.com/nissan/2013-juke_nismo/
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          [blocked]
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          car guy tradition transmission shift at the red line or some before it. Carguy probably you donot know, but CVTs can be program any how you want it, like what honda did with the accord, but you will end up with worst fuel economy, that is why the altima have a different programing
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like the accent job, always liked the profile and rear, still can't get over the front end. Im sorry Nissan, in the real world most people feel the same. I've talked about the Juke with a lot of people, nobody loves that mug, its just so hard to stomach. On the other hand, its extremely cheap for a Nismo treated car.
      RG1527
      • 1 Year Ago
      I actually have a juke sl awd. It's the first auto transmission car I have owned in a long time ( previously had a couple of rx 7 and last car was a civic si) The cvt works very well and manual mode (in sport mode) is a hoot to drive . The awd works very well in snow.
      gary
      • 1 Year Ago
      Original reports were you were going to be able to get the Juke Nismo with AWD and a manual transmission. Too bad it's not true.
      Azazel
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love the Juke Nismo. It would be the perfect replacement for my SE-R if only I could get the 6spd with AWD.
      Iosif Bogdan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Juke is simply a glorified clown car. Before ANYTHING else, you should've addressed its cabin space. IT IS RIDICULOUSLY SMALL. I'm 1.89 m tall and can't get comfortably behind the wheel. Even so, after adjusting the driver seat to (barely) suit me, there's so little leg space left behind it that I can't get in the back AND close the door. Head room for the back seats is also abysmal in all cases. I can't imagine any man wanting this car, beside hipster midgets.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Iosif Bogdan
        [blocked]
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Iosif Bogdan
        then why don't you get a car you fit in and shut up please?!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lachmund
          [blocked]
      RudyH
      • 1 Year Ago
      Give me a Veloster with a lower center of gravity and 200 lbs less weight, and not a Performance 'Joke' please...
        jackearlnovak
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RudyH
        Why all the FWD "power" and no LSD??? Similar to the Veloster. Over 200ft lb of torque to the front wheels and nothing to utilize it. I don't understand how anything coined performance that's FWD does not have an LSD. Isn't this why the Focus ST and MazadaSpeed 3 are highly praised? .. the way they handle all that torquesteer.
          Jay-Zeus
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jackearlnovak
          Mechanical LSD over electronic compensations any day of the week. I'm glad Honda and Mazda still put them in their cars.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jackearlnovak
          [blocked]
          Dixon Ticonderoga
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jackearlnovak
          Not so much the 3, Mazda has never properly tamed the front wheels on that thing.
        Dixon Ticonderoga
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RudyH
        The Veloster is, arguably, better looking but not one single review of any"sporty" Hyundai vehicle has lacked the phrase "the suspension tuning needs work." Say what you will about Nissan, but they wrote the book on midling power FWD performance cars with the original Sentra SE-R.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dixon Ticonderoga
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dixon Ticonderoga
          [blocked]
          Dixon Ticonderoga
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dixon Ticonderoga
          Sure, but we haven't seen the fruit of Hyundai's Nurburgring offices yet, meanwhile Nissan vehicles are routinely lauded for their handling today. Also, I think the NX200 was the successor to the original SE-R. Too bad no one bought one.
      RodRAEG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, Nissan must be desperate for performance models if they're trying to turn this lump of mantis-faced cheese into a sporty car.
      NightFlight
      • 1 Year Ago
      I might be crazy, but the NISMO model does look pretty decent. I really wish they had an optional LSD like what they had for the now departed Sentra SE-R Spec-V. This thing with a proper LSD would be a hoot to drive, and still remain somewhat practical. It is disappointing that you automatically get the CVT when you opt for AWD, that's a serious buzz kill.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @NightFlight
        The CVT is program differrent form the one use the the regular cars, and it is swifter than the standard in acceleration from stand point over in traffic, because it introduces a 'rhythmic' auto up shift that simulates manual changes at the red-line
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          [blocked]
    • Load More Comments
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