At the press launch of the Juke Nismo in Barcelona, the Japanese manufacturer let journalists get behind the wheel of a camouflaged, higher powered version of the car – suggesting what the future might hold for the firm.
The standard model already has a power hike to 197bhp from its 1.6-litre DIG-T unit as well as handling and steering modifications, but the new model will have even more punch.
Although the maker remained tight lipped on the faster car’s name – there was no mention of the RS moniker we unveiled at the Paris Motor Show – but we did learn it would get a further 18bhp as well as an even sportier set up.
We had a short spin in the disguised car on an auto test course and can report it sounds meaner and pulls harder than the standard Juke Nismo – which is already an impressive package in itself.
Nissan engineering supremo Jerry Hardcastle said: ‘The high powered version is still under debate. It’s clear as you increase the power the chances owners will want to take it onto a track increases too so it will be a difficult balance to set up, but we are working on it.’
Some may wonder why the brand’s iconic Nismo performance arm’s attentions have been turned towards the Juke before anything else in the model line up – there are, after all, more sporty models already in the maker’s arsenal.
However, Miyatani San – the president of Nismo – said it was because the maker wanted to build a global brand. Although hugely respected and revered in Japan, Nismo is little known outside of the country – unless you happen to be a PlayStation Gran Turismo fan.
‘That’s why we had to focus on a volume model first,’ he said. ‘Nismo needs to be accessible for everyone. Yes, we are a motorsport brand, but Nissan is about innovation and excitement for everyone.’
However, the high-powered Juke wasn’t the only surprise Nissan had up its sleeve at the event. The manufacturer also pulled the wraps off the next car to get the Nismo treatment – the sporty 370Z.
With a new spoiler and front splitter, the new car certainly looks the part and under the bonnet it’s been given a power hike too, up to 337bhp.
Nismo engineers revealed it had been tweaked for better handling and steering with throttle response tweaked to ‘make it easier to catch a drift’. It’s likely to arrive in the summer. Looks like Nismo is here to stay…