When Nissan launched the Qashqai back in the early 2000s, no-one really knew what to expect. It bridged the gap between family hatchback and compact 4×4 and it proved to be a huge success, selling over 300,000 cars to date. So it only made sense that Nissan applied the same crossover treatment to its A-segment car, and what it came up with was the Nissan Juke.
Prior to the Juke, Nissan’s main offering to the supermini segment has always been the Micra, and where it’s safe to say its main audience has been of the golden generation variety, this though, is the complete opposite. Just look at those bulging fog lamps, wide grille, protruding headlamps and muscular curves. Even those rear lights have been inspired by the 370Z sports coupe. It really does look like a supermini that's been fed a course of steroids, especially this range-topping Juke Nismo RS model.
Inside, the dash is logically laid out and although the plastics aren’t up there with the best in class, they're not offensive either. There are some nice touches like the gearbox housing which is inspired by a motorbike fuel tank. Another area where the Juke really stands out, especially with this second generation version, is the personalisation – for example, it is possible to colour-code areas of the trim depending on your taste.
Space has been sacrificed in the interest of styling though. The sloping roof line means taller passengers may struggle in the back for both head and leg room. The boot is a little on the small side too, but it can be expanded thanks to the split folding rear seats.
The range-topping Nismo RS gets a 215bhp 1.6-litre petrol turbo, and will give most hot hatches a real run for their money. In fact, it will do the 0-60mph dash in 7.8 seconds – that's just one second slower than a Golf GTi.
It is more spirited to drive, but plant the throttle hard and the steering wheel squirms heavily. It really is a car that you need to keep the revs high to get the most out of it. The steering is well weighted and precise, however, the taller ride height means it can lean a bit more than more conventional hot hatches. Not everyone will opt for performance, so for more real world driving we’d opt for the 1.5 litre dCi diesel, as it offers a nice drive combined with affordable running costs.
Watch the video above to find out what our group of young drivers make of the Nissan Juke Nismo RS.