Review: 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO AWD – Where is the Manual?


This is a review of the 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO AWD.  It’s a fun little car if you get a chance to know it.  Is the all wheel drive Juke NISMO the best of all Jukes?  As the title says – there is something missing.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Nissan Juke NISMO AWD $25,290 $27,710 197 / 184
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: LEASE IT! 25 / 30 Combined 27 Combined 24.7

First Impressions

The 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO actually feels bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. The driver and front passenger enjoy ample room all around. The NISMO sport seats in the front are snug and offer great lateral support.  Oddly enough, Juke’s exhaust crowned with a NISMO specific tipis too quiet and does not elicit a lot of emotion.


The stand out design of the Juke has been polarizing opinions ever since it was introduced in 2011. Until the 2014 Jeep Cherokee goes on sale later this year, it’s difficult to think of another vehicle currently on sale with such an odd design. The NISMO version adds more flare with LED running lights up front, aggressive and aerodynamic body kit with a signature red accent outlining the sporty valances, skirts, and spoilers. It looks downright evil in this black color (it also comes in white and silver). NISMO Juke’s large side mirrors are also painted red, as well as the red rally steering wheel marker. The large single exhaust tip is another way to spot a NISMO.

2013 juke nismo interior steering wheel

There are more good things on the inside. The sport seats are comfortable and well bolstered for spirited driving. Many of the surfaces are covered in a suede-like material, including the steering wheel. This gives a premium and sporty feeling throughout the interior. With that being said, you can still notice cost saving plastics and whatever the headliner is made out of. However, the materials are carefully chosen and cleverly laid out with the better materials in the foreground and the cheaper stuff out of the way.


The 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO receives a 9 horsepower boost up from the regular version for a healthy total of 197 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque coming from a compact 1.6-liter turbo engine. This test vehicle was equipped with a smart AWD system and the non-fitting CVT transmission. Nissan makes some of the best CVTs on the market, but it does not fit the sporty character of this Juke. There is a fair amount of turbo lag from the small motor, when leaving stop lights around town. The on-off tendency of the CVT makes it difficult to modulate the throttle. I found myself grabbing a lot of throttle at first, then having to back out of it once the turbo is fully kicked in.

The Juke is the first vehicle I drove with the AWD that you can switch into FWD.  This is great for getting a little better economy and acceleration when you do not need all wheel traction.  However, if you can live without the AWD, the Juke NISMO comes with a nice 6-speed manual transmission.  I claim that a FWD only Juke NISMO with a manual transmission is the ultimate Juke of them all.

2013 nissan juke nismo rear black


I was fortunate to drive this sporty Juke on the race track and on the street. The NISMO has been lowered almost one inch, and it’s sitting on 18 inch wheels and low profile tires. All of these modification make this Juke a more competent handler. However, its center of gravity is still a little high thus it is a little tippy going around a racetrack at full tilt. Perhaps, a road course is not this NISMO’s natural habitat. It feels like it would be perfect on a dirt rally course.  I drove a regular Juke on a rally course last year, and I think this tuned version would do great, if it has enough suspension compliance to soak up the bumps.

On the street, this NISMO strikes a good balance between performance and comfort.  It is leaning to the firm side of things, but it’s not uncomfortable.  The steering has good weight and is direct.  It’s not perfect, but it is a great setup for this price range.


Does the Juke have any competition?  Is there another oddly designed small AWD crossover, which is ready for a rally?  Nissan compares the Juke to the Hyundai Veloster and the MINI Cooper on its website.  Yet, neither the Veloster nor the Cooper have available all wheel drive or four doors.  The KIA Sportage could also be cross-shopped, but it’s more powerful, thirsty, and expensive.  In many ways, the Juke stands on its own.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO AWD a Lease It! 

The 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO AWD is a good little car, but it’s not a slam dunk for me. I don’t have any issues with Juke’s styling. My two issues are: the lack of a sporty sounding exhaust and manual transmission option with the all wheel drive.  I would give a Buy It! rating to the front wheel drive Juke NISMO 6-speed manual.  That model would save you about 200 lbs of curb weight and around $2,500 in price. And the manual transmission would make it more controllable and fun.

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Check out this TFLcar mile high 0-60 MPH test of the 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO:

Juke NISMO on the race track:

Juke NISMO in a ‘Hot Hatch’ Mashup:


Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or simply ‘going for a drive’.