Imagine a core group of Nissan GT-R engineers, drivers and designers set loose on the Nissan Juke NISMO. Task?
Take the quickest and most performance-focused crossover, and make it truly track-tight in every way.
That is how the Juke Nismo RS came into this world -- with astounding results. The speed, style and drive experience of the Nismo RS is absolutely incredible versus its $28k competitors -- and even versus pricier cars like the AMG GLA45, WRX or Mustang EcoBoost.
The Juke Nismo RS is incredibly focused from first sitting in its racing Recaro hard-back bucket seats. A pair of slick tires, 5-way harness and FIA roll cage is all that separates the RS from a time-attack hot lap or SCCA weekend races.
The Juke Nismo RS benefits from all the upgrades for the 2015 Juke family, with smart style tweaks all around to set off the GT-R Juke-R style.
150 photos and two 4K drive videos accompany this full review with Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary sections.
4K HD Drive Video
The Juke and its Juke NISMO big brothers are much cooler and tech-savvy than ever for the 2015 refresh. New LED boomerang slashes in white sit in the top lamps along with the turn signals. A fantastic surprise? You can see these white upper LEDs from the driver seat! Super cool.
Below the Ninja hoodline, the grille is now gloss black across its full width horizontally. The main headlamp units for 2015 are projector low-beams embedded within reflector halogen highbeams -- with a look that recalls the Porsche 993 among others.
The V-motion bright grille bars are now black chrome for the NISMO Jukes, creating a sinful and menacing new face for this hot cross-hatch. The NISMO and NISMO RS also wear a fully unique front bumper and air splitter. The special front bumper and bodykit of the JUKE NISMO models is intense -- all open air intake to feed to vertical turbo intercooler beside the main radiator. Special bumper details include the standard GT-R horizontal DRLs below the main grille -- shining brighter than ever for 2015.
2014 JUKE Nismo
A previous tech footnote was that the lower LEDs could not be lit with the main lamps -- they flipped off when moving past the parking-light indent. That still is the case, but the upper and lower LEDs can be lit together at full brightness. It is *almost* enough to light the road ahead, and super visible for grey days or dusk -- looking bright and sharp. Without the middle round lamps lit, the Juke Nismo RS finds its sexiest lighting arrangement.
The projector beam lows are solid at actual lighting in the dark. For this scenario, the lower LED lamps are off but the uppers stay lit in their slightly dimmer nighttime output level.
2015 JUKE Nismo RS
The look with the lights on is much less cool than parking-lights only with upper and lower LEDs, unfortunately. With standard halogens for the low and high-beams, the main lamps are very yellow-ish next to the pure white-blue of the other LEDs. An aftermarket HID kit for $50 on the low-beam projectors would be a simple swap -- erasing some of those concerns. Still wish those lower LEDs could stay on all the time, however.
PROFILE - Design Analysis
In profile, the Juke Nismo RS features privacy glass all around this year -- to great effect. The sharp lines of the Stig-helmet-visor are carried forward from the GT-R, but without black A-pillars. Even so, it looks funkier and more brash than ever with the dark glasshouse hiding the rear doorhandles and B-pillar altogehter.
Red RS mirrors are a nice complement to the NISMO black, silver and white paint color choices. Why not the standard Juke's new yellows or other shades? Because NISMO paints the cars with special high-dollar paint sharing product codes with, you guessed it, the mighty GT-R. The results are fantastically deep and premium -- we recommend the black for maximum visual depth into the car's lines.
The same black alloys with polished details continue for 2015 -- they are large enough in diameter to match the bodykit aggression. But they are deliberately pretty skinny rubber patches to ensure the NISMO Jukes are fun to chuck around. It works in corners: the Juke NISMO hangs on gamefully until about nine-tenths driving, when the machine transitions into a smooth four-wheel drift. Little understeer to report but some off-the-line grip challenges -- discussed further in the Performance section below.
TAIL - Design Analysis
Around back, the RS wears an exclusive tailgate spoiler that wraps the windowline of the back glass. In helps jut the overall Juke design forward, like an animal ready to pounce.
New LED light pipes start horizontal across the trunklid before spiking upward into the C/D-pillar area beside black-tinted glass. It is a solid look -- especially at night and under braking, when individual LED blocks in the lower edge of the lamp light up red.
The rear diffuser is a serious piece of kit -- taking the full length and height of the back bumper for its gloss-grey aero details. The entire bodykit down below is rimmed by NISMO red pinstrpes --- but these appeared a bit faded on the test car. Not a great sign for a new machine less than a year old -- we hope the pure, bright lipstick color holds doesn't fade further into orange-red ickiness. (* the pinstripes may have just gotten dusty.)
A giant 100-mm tailpipe eases many worries, though, with its throatier RS exhaust system making much more of a gurgle at idle. It is a snorty and poppy exhaust in hard driving; much louder than we recall the previous Juke NISMO.
Finally, the F1-inspired lower foglamp in back is just a reflector here in the USA -- but upgradeable to Euro spec on aftermarket.
The big change inside the RS versus the standard Juke NISMO is the front seats: sporty hypersuede NISMO units are swapped out for deep, hardbacked racing Recaro's.
The seats are intense -- you really have to launch yourself up and out to get by its huge base and side bolsters. But while wearing hard shells and thin padding that backseaters benefit from... the Recaro seats are also fully adjustable and even have side airbags included. Impressive.
Buying these seats on the aftermarket would cost $5k easily -- and these thrones alone make up much of the $4k RS price premium over the standard Juke NISMO.
The Recaro's are fantastically supportive and comfortable, even wrapping this husky auto-tester physique.
Otherwise, the loaded NISMO Juke tech spec continues for the RS. The black headliner and black hypersuede dash, wheel and shifter wraps are great. They feel premium, super durable and easily cleaned. For a track day, nothing absorbs sweat more effectively than this race-inspired material!
The RS has a roomier back seat that other Jukes with its slimmer seats, with impressive new knee and toe room.
Comfort in the back seat is actually really impressive. The chopped glasshouse looks like it would make a tight space in there, but the carved-out roof lining and reclined standard seatback angle feels pretty good. Certainly as roomy as the Fiat 500X or Chevy Trax.
The Juke NISMO RS is a bit tight on entry room in back, but besides that it is two thumbs up for seating four big adults. Five will be tight, but possible for brief trips.
The only options on the RS NISMO's interior are floormats and a matching hypersuede/red armrest. The center armrest for $250 is a must-buy for long range comfort. No intrusion into shifting room to report. It does have a limited storage cubby area inside, but does not open fully or with a high-quality feel.
Lastly, the painted center console is as cool as ever. In silver, it is a bit blah -- we'd love a red one to match the mirror caps outside? This is possible via the Juke color studio accessories program or with a DIY respray/wrap of the hard-shell console. The NISMO shifter and badging lives in a somewhat hokey fake carbon detail and center stack finish.
We really love the NISMO RS driving experience. The touchscreen upper display handles nav and audio apps, while the lower screen works drive modes and climate.
The Juke Nismo RS is a performance maniac. This is a car that absolutely rockets up its tach and shoves the car forward like it was punted by an NFL kicker.
The huge surging rush of torque and turbo boost is seriously addictive in the RS front-drive manual. This is a car for excellent drivers -- and those who want to be excellent. No loafing around or paddle shifts are possible: you have to be on top of the one-two gearshift the moment you floor the throttle in first. Same for any low gear, really. A rocketing tach needle and short gears conspire to keep your shifter arm and clutch leg in close sync.
So much work, but oh-so-rewarding. Mostly because hauling ass in the Juke Nismo RS takes skill and expertise.
You master the no-lift gearchanges quickly thanks to triple sychromesh in the bottom three gears. This makes heel-toeing simple, as are forceful downshifts. The feel of the shifter is crudely feelsome and very macho with its snicks and pops, even though it is a pretty light throw.
After so much smiling and giggling at the fighty torque steer of the RS, all other supercars feel lazy and boring. Fun is your permanent co-pilot in the Juke Nismo RS.
TRANSMISSION RECO -- MANUAL OR AUTO?
The incisive steering is razor accurate, and same goes for the cornering attitude. Very precise and confident even past its limits and into a drift. As detailed below, big mechanical changes between the stick-shift (FWD) and automatic (AWD) make them drive very differently.
If you love a super grippy and tossable front end leading a playful swinger of a tail out back, the RS front-drive manual is the one for you. It is overall the much more hard-core of any of the NISMO foursome.
But in addition to the gripes below, the front-drive Nismo RS spins its front tires from drag launches. The AWD CVT pops off the line much more slowly, but more cleanly.
HD Drifty Drive Video - 2015 Nissan JUKE Nismo RS Review
The Juke NISMO comes in four flavors. The front-drive NISMOs are all six-speed manuals, while the AWD versions all run an xTronic CVT with torque-vectoring. The AWD also has four-wheel independent suspension versus the drifty torsion bar in the front-drive. The front-drive RS works its limited-slip diff grip to the max at all times, however, which is something the CVT can't match.
-- Front-drive NISMO (Manual): $24,830
-- AWD NISMO (Automatic): $27,230
-- Front-drive Nismo RS (Manual): $28,020
-- AWD NISMO RS (Automatic): $30,020
We're torn on what to recommend. It is really up to your weather needs. While the CVT has four fewer horsepower (215 vs 211 on the AWD), it has big benefits in normal driving. On the highway, the automatic is a bit smoother and cruises at lower revs than the stick, which is geared super short.
The stick is fine on the highway. The short final drive ratio means that sixth gear at 80-mph is in the meat of its turbo boost bliss at all times. But the 1.6L DIG turbo is spinning pretty eagerly between 3,500 and 4000-rpm for most fast highways.
After some highway blasts, you find that the Nismo RS manual has a very, very small gas tank. Just above 10 gallons means a ~250 range and frequent stops on the highway.
- Includes all S Features, Plus:
- NISMO aerodynamic body kit
- NISMO-tuned suspension
- 18" aluminum-alloy wheels with summer tires
- NissanConnect℠ with Navigation and Mobile Apps
- Includes all JUKE NISMO features Plus:
- NISMO-tuned DIG turbocharged engine with increased performance
- Recaro sport bucket front seats
- Performance brake upgrade
- Increased body rigidity, better handling, reduced body roll
So how did the GT-R crew do in making a flawless RS tuner special our of the Nissan Juke NISMO?
They aced it!
For just a slight bump above the standard $20k Juke, the $28k NISMO RS front-drive is one of the best supercar upgrades at any price.Just think of it as a parts/labor equation to realize how fantastic, how special, and how unique the the Nismo RS really is versus the standard crossover.
Parts-wise, you are paying for the Recaro's, RS performance brakes, limited-slip differential, cabin and exterior makeovers on both Jukes. You are paying for the big-boost RS engine, suspension and steering sharpness. Same goes for the extra welding and chassis braces under the RS.
But all these parts are marked down 50-percent, and the labor written off as a goose-egg. At the end of every hilarious drive in the Juke NISMO RS, you can thank your lucky stars to be in a factory-prepared track car.
The 215HP turbo speed and OEM-quality execution, engineering and construction should double the Juke's price. But thanks to the NISMO gods, the RS is here and stellar -- for less than $30k.
For Fiesta ST fun, GT-R coolness but Altima mileage... the Juke NISMO RS is one of a kind.