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. 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. 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 …
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|MPG||25 City / 31 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||188 @ 5600 rpm|
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