Every spring, hundreds of people chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hillside in Gloucestershire. No one really knows why it happens, but we’re all glad it does – it’s the sort of gloriously absurd thing humans occasionally do just because they have a day off work.
It’s humanity giving two fingers to the everyday grind and expressing their need to just do things because they’re fun. The Nissan Juke Nismo RS is the car version of a person chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill.
No one asked for a small SUV-crossover with as much power as a Golf GTI, and no one really asked for a car with a high driving position to tackle corners quickly and aggressively. But we’re rather glad Nissan has persisted with this slightly bonkers car for one simple reason – it’s actually rather good fun.
Juking it out with the media
The motoring press hasn’t treated the Juke Nismo RS especially well – it’s been criticised for offering slightly more power than it can handle, meaning it pushes wide in corners and spins its wheels when trying to accelerate hard from a turn. These testers have been approaching the Juke like they would any other fast hatchback – they look for finesse, poise and – in some cases – the ability to go quickly around a race track.
The Juke Nismo RS certainly lacks subtlety and, although its limited slip differential does help it pull itself through corners with the accelerator flat to the floor, it’s not going to get from point A to B as quickly as a Ford Fiesta ST. It’ll lean over more in corners too thanks to its higher ride height, and steering that doesn’t give you much feel, so you’re never quite sure when it’ll push wide and understeer.
Buyers who want a serious hot hatch should look elsewhere but, if you want a car that doesn’t take itself too seriously and can put a big grin on your face, the Juke Nismo RS is worth keeping on your shopping list.
No one expects a humble Nissan Juke to race away from traffic lights with the velocity the Juke Nismo RS can muster – it does 0-60mph in seven seconds but feels faster thanks to its torquey turbocharged 215hp 1.6-litre engine. It won’t cost huge amounts to run either – we saw 38mpg on the motorway and wouldn’t be surprised if you could get closer to the claimed 40.9mpg with a very light foot.
Inside, the Juke Nismo RS can be ordered with comfortable and supportive Recaro race-style seats. They’re part of an optional £1,300 Recaro Pack, but they give the Juke’s insides a racy feel, and also help keep you in place when the car leans in corners.
Whether you love or loathe the Juke Nismo RS’s looks you can’t deny it stands out from the sea of hatchbacks and SUVs on the roads. The optional pearl white of our test car means it even looks quite aggressive.
The Juke Nismo RS’s downsides – namely its limited rear-seat space and body lean when cornering – don’t look so bad when you consider the asking price. The RRP is £21,990 – and you can often save about £1,500 using carwow. That means for just over £20,000 you get a fun, characterful, fast small SUV – it just depends on whether you want to stand out from the hot-hatchback crowd. If you want to be different then there’s a lot about the Juke Nismo RS to recommend it.
Prefer to follow the crowd?
If you like your cars cheap, fast but not as radical as the Juke Nismo RS, then take a look at our top 5 hot hatchbacks for under £20,000. There are a few choices on there that may surprise you – and would only fit your budget if you buy using carwow. If you’re still at a loss about what car to buy next, use the carwow car chooser to boil all 450 cars on sale down to a more manageable selection.