To say the Nissan Juke Nismo is an unusual looking crossover is a bit of an understatement – and I can never quite decide whether I like it or not.
It’s certainly a distinctive looking car, with the bulging multi-socketed bug eyes on the front giving way to sleek, sophisticated looking lines along the sides and a pretty normal looking tailgate.
The five-door Juke Nismo is essentially the hot hatch (hot cross doesn’t really have the same ring to it) version of the regular model, which has been fine tuned by Nissan’s Motorsport division – hence Nismo.
Red wing mirrors, 18in alloys, a rear spoiler, the aforementioned Nismo badge and suede interior differentiate it from the regular Juke.
Inside, there’s a plush and sporty looking cabin, with comfortable huggy sport seats for front seat occupants. These seats are also heated, but the buttons are strangely positioned far back between the front seats, out of your eyeline.
Rear passengers also get the suede upholstery and two adults would be comfortable in the back.
Legroom is great in the front and adequate in the back for someone of my height (5ft 5in) sitting behind someone of similar height.
There are also lots of storage cubbies in the Juke Nismo, including two deep cup holders between the front seats. A regular size bottle of water will also stand upright in the door bins.
The boot is also a decent size, with underfloor storage. Rear seats fold to increase boot space.
With a motorsport background, you’d expect the Juke Nismo to look after the driver – and it does.
From the easy-on-the-eye instrument panel, to the uncluttered centre console layout, to the excellent reversing camera, to how the car handles, the driver is number one.
The test car had a touch screen infotainment unit with easy to use Sat Nav. I also liked that climate control is operated by physical buttons on the centre console rather than on screen ones.
The Juke Nismo has an excellent sound system and I found that the phone and Bluetooth streaming were easy to set up and to operate.
It also has a very clever double button system on the centre console – hit climate and you get all the associated buttons, however, hit D-Mode and those same buttons change to driver options.
While the Juke Nismo isn’t the most exhilarating hot hatch/cross I’ve ever driven, I did enjoy it.
Our route took us in the city, on the motorway, winding country roads and up the mountains.
The 1.6-litre 200ps six-speed turbocharged petrol manual had three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport.
I found the fuel efficient Eco mode to be a bit tame once you got out of the city centre and I spent most of my driving time in Normal mode, which was powerful and fast without being too much so.
I found Sports mode a bit too punchy for normal roads, but was fun in the mountains.
In Normal mode, the Juke Nismo was very fast at the lights, effortlessly leaving other vehicles for dust.
The car handled well on all roads and steep mountain routes were no problem to it. I was also impressed here with the beautiful suspension.
Like the Micra, the Juke also has raised bug eye lights which can be seen from the driving seat. I found this off-putting at first because it makes the car look wider.
This car certainly attracts a lot of looks (one person even took a picture of it while we were sitting in traffic) – whether this interest is for good or bad reasons or simply Gran Turismo/Batman fans, I still haven’t decided.
Overall, I am still in two minds as to the exterior styling, I’m a big fan of the interior, it’s a lovely drive for everyday motoring and when you hit Sport, you can have some fun.
The Nissan Juke Nismo is available now, with prices starting from €29,875. Prices for the regular Nissan Juke start from €19,295.
Engine: 1.6-litre 200ps petrol
Acceleration: 0-100kph in 7.8seconds
Maximum Speed: 215kph
CO2 emissions: 159g/km
Combined fuel economy: 6.9l/100km
Annual road tax: €570
Sporty Nissan Juke Nismo launched