Nissan is making big changes for its second-generation Juke, but as long as it's still fun to drive, we aren't going to complain that much.
I didn't always like the Nissan Juke. When it launched in 2010, I just couldn't get over the way it looked – it came across as super weird, and kind of hideous at first blush. But I slowly warmed up to the funky little crossover/hatchback/thing, and after spending some time behind the wheel, I really learned to love Nissan's small wonder. It's a genuine hoot to drive, offering hot hatch-like thrills in a package that doesn't look like anything else on the road. The Nismo and RS models that
Back in 2012 at Brazil's São Paulo Motor Show, Nissan showed off an angular subcompact crossover concept, Extrem, that seemed to to portend the future of the Nissan Juke. Now, the Japanese automaker is teasing an as-yet-unnamed CUV concept for this year's show. The new showcar, set for an October 28 unveiling, is expected to be a closer-to-production version of the Extrem ethos.
The concept of the 545-horsepower Nissan Juke-R that stuffs the drivetrain of a GT-R into a subcompact crossover is already insane, but Russian company Shpilli Villi Engineering has taken things even further with their own crazy riff on the idea. Its version tunes the engine up to a claimed 800 horsepower, plus a shot of nitrous for an extra 200 hp to put it (way) over the top. Naturally, a number of other upgrades have been exacted in an effort to try and keep the custom Juke's shiny side up an
Take a Nissan Juke Nismo, replace all of its suede and Alcantara interior with leather and cross-stitching, replace all of its badging with the words "Infiniti ESQ," and boom! You've got a made-for-China crossover aimed at "the new millennials." Infiniti teased the coming of the ESQ last month, and today, we're treated to pictures taking it in from various toothsome angles.
As a point of love-it or hate-it styling, the Nissan Juke is king. As a weird, samurai-bullfrog-looking compact crossover with handling chops and a gutsy powertrain, it also has one of the bravest inclusions of a manual transmission in recent memory. It's funky, unmistakable, polarizing and actually pretty neat. Okay, so even though the back seats have a surprising amount of legroom, it's like sitting in a cave, and the sightlines out the back are challenging – every frog needs a few warts
When most luxury automakers started getting into SUVs and crossovers, they started at with the largest models, but have gradually been getting smaller. Think Lexus and the LX, Audi and the Q7, or BMW and the X5, and you'll see what we mean, because each of them has been steadily downsizing its crossovers ever since. But Infiniti is going even smaller. At least, in China, anyway.
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