Sunday 17 December 2017

The Juke's on me! Nissan has come up with a jolly mixture

The controls and dash of Juke Nismo
The controls and dash of Juke Nismo
The Juke Nismo
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I love that scene from D'Unbelievables (Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny) where a 'young lad' is trying to make up his mind about which sweets to buy. "How much is two of them and one of them?" he asks – just one of several combinations he enquires about as he, occasionally, looks at the few coppers on his hand while the 'shopkeeper' becomes increasingly agitated. We still laugh at what is one of the great Irish comedy scenes.

Motoring is going that way. We stand looking at cars. We like bits of some and more of others. Could we have a bit of that and a bit of this?

Nissan cottoned on to the trend with their Qashqai, a mix of 'SUV' and people carrier and estate and, well, whatever you're having yourself.

Then they went further and produced a 'sawn-off' version called the Juke. Which is where I stopped laughing, for a while. I thought it was an awful looking yoke. The Juke joke was on me, though. People loved it. I'm usually a light-year behind in adapting my tastes. I gradually came to accept it. Don't get me wrong. It was a cleverly packaged, fun-to-drive smattering of motoring. And there are a lot of them out there.

Now they've gone and done something quite different. They put hot liquorice bulls-eyes in with the jelly beans. It's called the Juke Nismo.

The latter name ring a bell?

You most likely know NISMO from computer games series such as Sony's 'Gran Turismo'.

But Nismo has a big reputation for motorsport in Japan and the US. Now Nissan are using it in Europe to label their performance cars.

The strategy is to meld racetrack and road-going in a car while ringing a few bells with its huge digital fan base. Smart. And they are going to give the Nismo treatment to nearly all their cars.

The Juke is the first. It is set up in such a way you don't have to whiz around like a demented bee – you can if you choose of course – because you can select whatever mode you want: Sport, Normal or Eco. When you do so, nearly everything else falls into line with that setting.

They've badged 'Nismo' at every opportunity inside (steering wheel, pedals, gauges, gear knob, door trims, leather and suede-covered steering wheel) and out (body kit, lower bumpers, side skirts, modified grille, tailgate spoiler, 18-inch alloys, wider tyres, red door mirror caps, pinstripe around base).

I think they've gone too far with the suede-trimmed NISMO sport seats with red stitching. Not mad about them. They picked up dirt too easily.

The fun is in the drive, of course. They manage to extract 200bhp from a remarkably quiet 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine. That's a nice bit of power and, believe me, if you want it transformed into zip, it does not delay in delivering the punch line. A flavour of performance.

The handling reflects its ability to take the cut and thrust in its stride. However, until I got used to it, I found the sudden burst of power a little disconcerting. It would take off like a rocket – turbo boost – all of a sudden.

I also found the cabin a bit claustrophobic. The rear seats were not that big, comfortable or spacious, though getting in and out was grand.

Is nearly €30,000 too much for it? Yes, because if it's real powerhouse stuff you're looking for, go buy a Golf Gti.

No, because this is an entertaining package that can do the everyday normal drive and you can have fun at the press of a button in something that is most decidedly different and reasonably practical.

Even people I considered more conservative in their tastes than me:

a) Liked the look of it.

b) Liked the material in the cabin.

c) Enjoyed the bit of performance.

Some would have preferred more rear-seat space. Others wanted it to be even flashier.

Talk about the 'two of them and one of them' syndrome. It's unbelievable how demanding people can be these days.

Performance

Nissan Juke Nismo performance 'crossover' four-door: 1.6-litre turbocharged (200bhp, 0-100kmh 7.8 seconds) 4 cylinder petrol, 159g/km (two-wheel-drive), 169g/km (four-wheel-drive) road tax €570, six-speed manual gearbox.

Standard spec includes several airbags, air con, electric windows, cruise control, range of safety/comfort technologies, 'second' boot (under-floor) and rear spoiler.

Price from €29,675 (two-wheel-drive) and €33,375 for four-wheel-drive. Remember delivery and related charges are extra.

Irish Independent

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