► We test Nissan’s baby crossover hot hatch
► Now empowered up to 215bhp, 207lb ft
► But can it compete with proper GTIs?
Stung by suggestions that the original Juke Nismo was a neat exercise in badge engineering and red pinstriping rather than a credible hot-hatch alternative, Nissan has pumped the second iteration turgid with steroids and packed it off to performance car boot camp.
It’s come back with various bits of body strengthening, mildly rejigged suspension and bigger ventilated brakes, with a mechanical limited-slip diff thrown in for good measure on front-drive versions.
As a reward, it’s been given an 18bhp power hike and an RS badge. One to wear with pride?
Nissan Juke Nismo RS (2015): first impressions
It does feel a more serious proposition than the Jismo of old. Lean on the throttle in the lower gears and you’ll need a firm grip on the suede wheel to counter a histrionic twist of torque steer, and although the boosty 1.6-litre turbo engine still begins to feel (and sound) strained towards the redline, it can certainly pile on the speed.
But this still isn’t the most precise of driving tools; despite the trick differential, all that boost quickly overwhelms the front tyres, and the Juke spends every corner locked in a battle against its own lofty, tottering centre of gravity.
That’s not to say it’s not fun, though, in an involving but rough-around-the edges kinda way.
Is it a viable hot hatch alternative?
Driving a performance car from such a high vantage point is an odd sensation.
On the one hand you get a fantastic crow’s-nest view of the road ahead; on the other you feel a bit precarious, like you’re sat in a slightly unstable high chair, albeit a Recaro one in this case.
Likeable though it is, the RS falls into a curious no-man’s land. If you want a hot hatch, there are more complete driver’s cars out there, and if you just want a posh Juke the regular Tekna version is easier to live with. More isn’t always better.