By Matt Schmitz on November 19, 2013
Competes with: Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4
Looks like: A Juke NISMO with a bit more attitude
Drivetrain: A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual (with front-wheel drive) or continuously variable automatic transmission (with all-wheel drive), good for 215 and 211 horsepower, respectively
Hits dealerships: Early 2014
The unconventional appearance of the Nissan Juke has earned it descriptions like "frog-eyed" and "looks like an angry Pokemon," and even landed it at No. 1 on our list of most-polarizing cars earlier this year. Love it or hate it, few deny that the Juke is fun to drive — even more so when you're talking about the punched-up performance of the aggressive-looking Juke NISMO. Building on that theme for the new model year is the race-inspired 2014 Juke NISMO RS, bowing today at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Nissan says the philosophy of the RS is "more" — "more power, handling and exclusive equipment." The compact crossover goes on sale early next year. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the regular 2014 Juke NISMO starts at $23,800 with an $810 destination charge.
The RS shares much of its exterior styling cues with the regular Juke NISMO, with aerodynamics-enhancing body features and a more aggressive front-end design. The regular fog lights have been replaced by thin-strip LED accent lights positioned at the top edge of small vents to the side of the larger grille. A NISMO red accent line starts on the upper edge of the large lower grille and curves around the smaller vents, continuing all the way to the front wheel arches, intended to give the nose more visual width and presence; it emphasize the RS’ athletic stance. Also, the V-strut grille is finished in a darker shade than the standard Juke, and those distinctive combination lights are smoked out. Other styling cues include front and rear NISMO RS badging, sculpted side skirts, muscular body-colored wheel arches, red-painted door mirrors, piano-black B-pillars, a deeper bumper, a body-colored liftgate spoiler and rear diffuser, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The RS is available in Sapphire Black, Brilliant Silver and Pearl White.
Inside, the RS has Recaro sport seats in front with red-leather side bolsters and black suede center inserts; the red-stitched seats have embossed Recaro and NISMO logos. The cabin also has an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, an RS logo on the speedometer, a charcoal-gray suede meter hood with red stitching and surface trim with a carbon-fiber look around the center stack and shifter, as well as red-stitched rear seats. Tech features in the RS' lone options group, the Navigation Package, include the NissanConnect navigation system with a 5.8-inch touch-screen, a Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH audio system and USB interface.
Under the Hood
Starting with the Juke-standard turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with direct injection, the RS ups the horsepower to 215 and torque to 210 pounds-feet when the front-wheel drive version is paired with the six-speed manual transmission; with all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission, the RS is rated at 211 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. Nissan says the RS' new six-speed manual uses lower gear ratios in the first three gears for "a noticeable increase in acceleration" compared with other Juke NISMOs; the CVT's eight-step gearing also improves acceleration in all-wheel-drive models compared with the seven of the regular NISMO.
A rearview camera is available as part of the $1,200 Navigation Package.
Check out the gallery below.
News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt