With Nismo, the Nissan Juke becomes a hot hatchback

With its squat body, bulbous fenders, and round headlights, Nissan’s Juke looks like a frog, but there’s an athletic prince hiding under its funky exterior. Since the Juke’s launch, a rogue group of Nissanites in the European division revealed that hidden prince with the Juke-R, an amalgam of this odd little hatchback and the budget supercar GT-R.

Nissan HQ took note of the enthusiasm, making the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo more widely available than the custom-order Juke-R.

Nismo, Nissan’s in-house tuner group, may have fallen short of the Juke-R’s performance, but it did manage to create a wildly fun sports car ready to go up against any hot hatchback, especially at its $ 22,990 base price.

Unfortunately, Nismo could not overcome the Juke’s biggest compromise, that its all-wheel-drive version can only be had with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A manual transmission with all-wheel drive and the Nismo treatment could have given the Juke the kind of rally cred owned by the Subaru STI and Mitsubishi Evo.

The cabin tech, another low point, suffers from Nissan’s current state of schizophrenia, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Nismo gives Nissan Juke a performance edge (pictures)

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