If you're interested in a sporty car that stands out on the road, you have a few coupes and convertibles to choose from. If you need a little more room or if you want a higher driving position, there aren't many options. Enter the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS, which offers a sporty take on the bold, unusually styled Nissan Juke small crossover. We spent a short time behind the wheel of a JUKE NISMO RS; here's our take.
Fun, Fun, Fun
On paper, the JUKE NISMO RS is impressive: Power is up to 215 horsepower, and the six-speed manual transmission (on front-wheel drive models) makes the best use of that power. The RS makes nearly 30 hp more than a standard Nissan Juke and 18 hp more than a Nissan JUKE NISMO (non-RS).
To handle the extra power, this RS Juke gets a few mechanical upgrades like beefier engine components, and a torque-steer reducing limited-slip front differential. It also has larger front brakes, steering that's tuned for better feel, plus the NISMO RS sits a little lower than a standard issue Nissan Juke.
The JUKE NISMO RS is surprisingly quick. While its 0-to-60 time is in the high 6-second range, the turbocharged engine -- and the 6-speed manual transmission in our test car -- made the experience a lot more exciting than the acceleration numbers might suggest - although mid 6s is pretty impressive. More than that, however, the Juke offers impressively sharp handling -- almost like a sports car, despite its crossoverlike center of gravity and elevated ride height.
Although we enjoyed our time behind the wheel of the JUKE NISMO RS, we think it's better as a sports car -- and not a crossover. The interior size is one reason for that: The JUKE NISMO RS, and any Juke, has a small back seat and a small amount of trunk space. If you're looking for an actual family crossover, the Rogue is probably the one to get.
Additionally, the JUKE NISMO RS adds another element that compromises its crossover status: huge wheels and tires. This Juke's standard 18-inch wheels and Continental summer tires make for a rather harsh ride, which isn't conducive to daily driving on especially rough roads. More importantly, you'll never be able to take it off-road, so if you have any notions of taking to the trails in your new crossover, the JUKE NISMO RS shouldn't be on your shopping list.
If you approach the JUKE NISMO RS knowing that it offers more sport than utility, we suspect you'll be happy with it. In fact, one of our staffers suggested that it would be an excellent alternative to a luxury model such as the BMW X1 or MINI Countryman -- strong words for a tuned-up Nissan crossover.
In addition to its excellent performance, one major reason why the JUKE NISMO RS feels so special is its interior. For around $27,000 out the door, the JUKE NISMO RS includes Alcantara accents and red stitching -- items that often aren't included on cars that cost three times as much. The Nissan JUKE NISMO RS also gets Recaro seats trimmed in red and black.
There's just one option package and that's primarily for navigation. However, the package includes a lot more than just that. You get a 5.8 inch touch-screen, Rockford Fosgate audio, NissanConnect apps and a rear camera.
In the end, the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS isn't for everyone, especially drivers interested in a practical crossover that's designed for daily duties and hauling the kids. If you're looking for a boldly styled, reasonably priced SUV that emphasizes sport above all else, however, we suggest you look no further than the unique JUKE NISMO RS.