Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Boy racer’s dream beast

THE first time I saw the Nissan Juke its swooping design lines somehow reminded me of

THE first time I saw the Nissan Juke its swooping design lines somehow reminded me of a racehorse.

The equestrian analogy is not so far-fetched. The Juke, particularly this week’s test car, the quick and nimble Juke Nismo RS — bolts like a racehorse when you put your foot down.

Not surprisingly then that this car can sprint from standstill to just over 60 miles per hour in just seven seconds.

But you feel that you have to keep a good grip on the leather steering wheel — that is, a tight rein — if you want to get the best performance out of this little beast.

I say “little” because the Juke is not a big car and indeed competes with other hot hatches. But maybe that’s what gives it its friskiness.

It is officially described as Nissan’s “ultimate performance crossover” and having driven it all this week I would not argue with that.

Switched into Sport mode in the Nismo RS you feel like unleashing your inner desire to be a racing driver — or is that boy racer?

The Nismo RS put me in mind of those wonderful drivers in the 2006 movie The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift, with their amazing ability to do hand brake turns and tyre-smoking “doughnuts” at will. While I didn’t quite indulge myself in this way, I did have a lot of fun driving the Juke Nismo RS.

For a performance car under £24,000 it strikes me as good value for money if this is your thing. But I get the impression that the more mature “speed-and-performance” petrol-heads among us might be a little sniffy at the prospect of owning a Juke Nismo RS.

With its Pearl Black livery, Nismo sports seats in suede with red stitching, Alcantara and leather steering wheel and 18-inch alloy wheels with coloured inserts the more serious among us might feel this one is for boy racers only.

Well all I can say is unlock the boy racer in yourself and try the Juke Nismo RS if you’re not too old to put some fun back in your motoring.

While we are on the subject of age, there is one salient point with regard to our Juke Nismo RS. You may not feel nimble enough to nip into the Juke Nismo RS and snuggle down into the Recaro sport bucket seats. Being of a certain age myself I have to say I have some sympathy here.

The seat designer in the interests of holding everything in place while you swoop through tight corners or attempt the odd doughnut felt compelled to install high sides to the bucket seats.

Several of my front-seat passengers found it difficult, not to say a bit painful, scraping their behinds over the raised edges of these seats. Perhaps if these sides were softer, a smoother entry to the vehicle both for front-seat passenger and driver would be achieved.

That said once at the wheel this right little belter swings into action at the blip of the accelerator pedal. If it were possible you can burn all the way up to a top speed of 137mph.

I get the feeling that you can throw this car around but did I feel confident to do so? The jury is out on that one. What this car does prove is that there is room for excellent original design outside the box to use one of those modern phrases that are often over-used.

But in that sense the Juke always has been since its launch around 2010 a car “outside the box”. It offers those interested in such cars a real alternative in design and performance.

In fact the Nismo aspect of the performance capabilities of this car is paramount.

Nismo is the proven motorsport arm of Nissan and brings its racetrack knowledge to all Nissans that bear the Nismo tag.

I wouldn’t dismiss this car if you do not take immediately to its looks â?? I imagine it must be a bit of a Marmite thing, either you like the look or you don’t â?? because it might bring out the inner driver in you.

In other words the Juke Nismo RS can put back your enthusiasm for quick, nippy driving. So much of driving today is routine and sometimes plain humdrum.

I like to think that when I hit the accelerator pedal I heard the Juke Nismo RS whinny with delight. Seldom have I driven a car more willing to go â?? a bit like any racehorse worth its salt.

The question for most of the motorists who revel in this sort of car is: would you buy a Juke Nismo RS in preference to any one of the other hot hatches around?

NISSAN Duke Nismo RS

Price of test car (on-the-road): £23,495

Engine: 1618cc 218DIG-T 2WD

Fuel type: unleaded

Transmission: manual

Colour: Pearl Black

Nismo-tuned exhaust system

Larger front brake discs and cross ventilated rear discs

18-inch Nismo alloy wheels

Maximum speed: 137mph

Acceleration: 0 to 62mph in seven seconds

Fuel consumption: 39.2mpg (combined cycle)

Both front and all-wheel drive versions available

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