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2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS Manual First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/6/2015 Megan Stewart
2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS Manual First Test

The 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS might not be the best-looking car on the block, with its strange proportions and interesting design elements, but when you're behind the wheel, all that fades to the back of your mind. The standard Juke comes powered by a 188-hp, turbocharged inline-four, but the NISMO models up the power to 197 hp and 215 hp for the NISMO and NISMO RS, respectively. We spent a week behind the wheel of the 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS, taking it out on the streets of Orange County to see what the top-of-the-line Juke could do.

The standard Nissan Juke offers a funky exterior design, and the NISMO treatment cleans it up with a slight sense of refinement in its different tweaks. The Juke NISMO RS sits on 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and features blacked-out combination lamps and LED daytime running lights, along with red mirror caps and body-color fender lips. The NISMO aerodynamic body kit adds more downforce, new front and rear fascia, a tweaked rear spoiler, and lowered side sills. A chrome exhaust, exterior NISMO RS badging, and rear privacy glass finish the NISMO touches for a slightly better-looking Juke.

Nissan Juke pricing, photos, and reviews

2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS

Slide into the Recaro sport bucket front seats, and you're met with a cabin covered in synthetic suede and an Alcantara trim. We enjoyed the soft-touch materials, but the Alcantara on the steering wheel was rather uncomfortable after longer drives. The red contrast stitching, along with the carbon-fiber trim, gave the Juke NISMO RS an elevated appearance. However, when the sun is blaring, the infotainment screen is virtually impossible to see and use thanks to the crazy amount of glare. As far as comfort, manually adjusting the seat to an ideal driving position is almost impossible, especially without a telescoping steering wheel. A $30,000 car should at least have a powered driver's seat. Added to that, there are no automatic headlights. Although not a huge thing, it's surprising for the amount of money this car costs. The bolstering around the entire seat was great while driving but a little too snug when exiting. When it's time to step out, the thigh bolstering catches you, making you almost have to climb over it to get out of the seat.

2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS

The Juke NISMO RS gets power from a NISMO-tuned, turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 2015 hp when equipped with a manual transmission or 211 with the CVT. Our model was equipped with the six-speed manual, which is only available on the FWD models. Gear ratios are close, and when shifting from fourth into fifth, it's easy to miss the gear and get it in between third and fifth. However, after I exaggerated my shifting to fifth, I had no more issues. The FWD model also included a helical front limited-slip differential that gives more power to the front wheel with the most traction while cornering, which was definitely noticeable when accelerating through turns.

We've driven other NISMO-tuned models featuring a manual transmission, and they all have one thing in common: an extremely stiff clutch. It's hard to get used to the clutch in the 2015 Juke NISMO RS, partly because it's near impossible to find an ideal driving position and also because it's so stiff. But once I finally got used to it thanks to more than an hour of stop-and-go traffic on our my home from the office, the rest of my time behind the wheel was relatively painless.

2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS

Although the 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS offers great performance, it's also fun to drive. It has an abundance of torque steer, and if you're not careful, you could end up in the next lane. But when needing that extra power off the line, the Juke NISMO RS delivers with ease. Getting up to speed is quick, with a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.9 seconds at 94.8 mph. Weaving in and out of traffic was a breeze thanks to smaller proportions and good pickup. When accelerating out of a corner, that limited-slip differential allows the Juke NISMO RS to power through and stick to the road.

We may not be the biggest fan of the 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS in terms of its looks, but the drive alone is enough to make up for this polarizing model's design flaws. We would ask for slightly less bolstered seats and a bit less of the Alcantara, but the Juke NISMO RS shines on the road. A bigger cargo area would go a ways toward boosting this model's appeal, but we'll just have to be happy with a zippy model that sips fuel despite its strong performance numbers.

2015 Nissan Juke Nismo RS
BASE PRICE$28,845
PRICE AS TESTED$29,190
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE1.6L/215-hp/210-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)2,951 lb (62/38%)
WHEELBASE99.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT163.8 x 69.7 x 61.8 in
0-60 MPH6.4 sec
QUARTER MILE14.9 sec @ 94.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH114 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.87 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT26.1 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON25/31/27 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY135/109 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.71 lb/mile

2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS

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