Full disclosure: I enjoy driving the JUKE. Always have. With AWD and the CVT, the Nissan JUKE is a joy and tons of fun (and I can almost forget what it looks like). So, how is it that I managed to dislike a manual model with more power? Read on.
What is a Nissan JUKE NISMO RS?
Introduced in 2010, the JUKE was and still is a compact sport utility vehicle, with a twist. Competing with the likes of the MINI Countryman and Mitsubishi RVR, the Nissan JUKE is a quirky alternative to the “norm.”
Adding the NISMO name to the front and rear means aesthetic changes and suspension tweaks, and the additional RS means a jump in horsepower and torque, as well. It also means only a manual transmission with FWD.
2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS Price and Specs
The NISMO RS comes in one way and one way only; options are to paint colours that may set you back an extra $300). Pricing of the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS is actually quite reasonable at $28,298.
For that you get a 1.6L turbocharged direct-injection engine that’s good for 215 horsepower out the front wheels controlled by a 6-speed manual transmission. There are no other transmission choices, and it only comes with FWD. However, a limited-slip differential is standard.
Driving the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS
I really liked the idea of the Nissan JUKE NISMO RS. In fact, I was quite looking forward to it. More ponies, a manual transmission, NISMO-tuned suspension and steering; really, what wasn’t to like?
Then I came off a MINI Cooper S test the week before I got behind the wheel of the NISMO and it all just kind of fell flat.
While the JUKE is much more a competitor for the Countryman than the Cooper hatch, they are still very much in the same segment and so comparing the two is not far off the mark. Where the MINI felt grounded and surefooted the NISMO RS felt float-y, too high off the ground and not controlled in the way the Cooper was.
Granted, the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS is zippy. It wants to go, and go it will when asked, but there’s refinement missing in the power delivery. There was something sloppy, something amiss, about the whole driving experience.
I expected more from the NISMO steering in the JUKE RS. It felt disconnected and a bit bus-like at times. And while I was thrilled to have a manual transmission, again it felt too floppy and “easy.” This is a track “capable” vehicle and it should require a bit of finesse to finagle into performing correctly on the street, however, the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS did no such thing. It just went complacently where I wanted (with a good amount of torque-steer to boot).
Inside and Out of the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS
Oh, that front end. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nissan has some of the most polarizing exterior designs on the market. From the JUKE to the GT-R and all the way to the likes of the QX80, they really push the envelope sometimes.
With red-capped mirrors, front lip spoiler, side skirts, and roof spoiler, my white 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS had some distracting bits to divert attention from its amphibious fascia. Its 18” NISMO alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights were also a nice touch to an otherwise unfortunate exterior.
Inside standard JUKE layout was present, save for a few key bits, namely the seats. Oh, those seats. The 2014 Nissan NISMO JUKE RS comes equipped with Recaro racing buckets up front. Yes, Recaro. Yes, heavily bolstered. And yes, they will violate you every time you get in and out of the car, but trust me you’ll like it.
Alcantara adorns the steering wheel and the shift knob, and a NISMO tach is nestled in the gauge cluster. Otherwise it’s business as normal with drive modes and climate controlled on the same screen in the centre stack and the same Nissan HMI we’re used to.
Comparing the 2014 Nissan JUKE NISMO RS
As mentioned above, the MINI Countryman is a competitor of the Juke, but in JCW trim. The MINI is farther ahead in terms of performance refinement even though the JUKE wins out in horsepower numbers. Then there’s the 5-door Volkswagen GTI which offers the same story as the MINI. What the Nissan JUKE NISMO RS has going for it is a cool, “different” factor, but not much else.