Nissan has defined a new category in the automotive world with the Nissan Juke RS, “Sports Crossover”. When the Juke was dropped off at my house, I didn’t know what to think; sports car or SUV?
At first glance, the red exterior mirrors, aerodynamic body kit and chrome exhaust scream sports car. Open the door and the Recaro racing seats, Alcantara steering wheel and 6-spd gear shift seem to confirm my first impression. Then, I step in and rather than “falling back” into the seat like most “sports cars”, it was more of a “step up” like an SUV. Now I’m really confused…
It was “love at first site” for my 19-year-old son who was there for the dropped off. He didn’t care how it was classified, he just wanted me to fire the thing up and let the review begin. I’ve never been one to intentionally disappoint my kids, so I wasted no time in trying to unscramble this puzzle.
The 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder engine “sounds” like its ready for business, but the mean streets of the Atlanta suburbs will be the judge of it and the Nismo tuned suspension and steering. This 6-spd manual transmission is only available on the front wheel drive version and when the turbo kicks in, under aggressive acceleration, there’s some noticeable torque-steer that takes a little getting used to. After a couple of “practice runs” though, the Nismo is predictable and well-mannered. The 18′ performance tires do a respectable job of keeping the Nismo firmly planted to the road while navigating the mountainous back roads of North Georgia; makes me wonder how it would do on a Rally Track. Click here to see what I found.
With all of these sporty characteristics, how could Nissan call the Juke a “crossover”? Earlier, I said “I’ve never been one to intentionally disappoint my kids” and only one of them has experienced the Juke to this point, but it was time to pick up the 7-year-old from school (and she’s a real “gear-head”, for a 7-year-old). So, with a 6’1″ college football player in the front seat and her booster seat latched in the back, we’ll see if the “crossover” meets her standards. When I pulled up in the carpool line, her eye’s were as big as flapjacks. She ran to the front door to get in because she couldn’t find the rear door handle that’s camouflaged by the window frame. (Take a look at the photo above and see if you can find the rear door handle.)
Once inside, to her surprise and mine, she could stand upright without her head touching the ceiling and when she climbed into her booster seat, her feet didn’t touch the back of the passenger seat. (to my son’s delight) She also gave “two thumbs up” to the deafening amount of bass coming from the sub-woofer under the back seat. She and my son don’t necessarily agree on music, but like I said earlier, I don’t like to disappoint my kids.
After a week of carpool lines, the Atlanta commutes and weekend errands just for the fun of shifting gears again like a kid, I couldn’t care less how Nissan defines the Juke Nismo RS, I call if FUN. Although I received some confused looks from other 40 something men as I traversed the city streets, the fun factor derived from the turbo-charged, 6-spd “pocket rocket” reminded me of my days as a youth riding my Moped “it’s fun to ride, but you don’t want anyone to see you riding it”, unless you’re under 30.
For a complete list of features and specs click here.