Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace
From a few years ago, me mugging with the bronze buffalo sculpture at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nissan Juke Nismo: You Can Take the Goofball out of the Car, but You Can't Take the Goof out of the Goofball.



I've spent the past week driving a Nissan Juke Nismo. Arguably the craziest looking production car on the road, Juke is something one might expect to see Roger Rabbit in cruising the streets of Toon Town.

I appreciate its quirky styling, but I'm less than convinced that as an owner, I could look at it parked in my driveway for three or four years. I caught a little flak from friends when they saw me behind the wheel, but sticks and stones, sticks and stones….


Because this is the Nismo edition, which means the fingerprints of Nissan's motorsports division are all over it, it has some styling cues that help it along. I first laid eyes on the Juke Nismo at the Chicago Auto Show. It was a white version and not particularly fetching. The one I've been driving this week is black and much easier on the eyes.

A FWD version will set you back about $23,000. That's roughly $4,000 more than an entry-level Juke, but certainly not the priciest in the FWD Juke pecking order.


This is a fun vehicle to drive. Maybe because I can't take myself seriously in it, I find myself smiling for no real reason. The front buckets wrap around you like a silk kimono with generous side bolsters that keep you upright ripping through the curves. Not that I would rip through the curves. No sir, not me. I'm a serious automotive journalist -- an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.

A slick six-speed manual tranny humps the output from this Juke's 197-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine to the front wheels or, for another $2,300, all the wheels.

There's not a ton of cargo space -- even with the second-row seats folded down, but there's room enough for most errands and cross-country trips involving two or three.


The press-car elves are swapping the Juke out tomorrow. I'll sort of be sorry to see it go. I don't mind looking a little goofy for the sake of enjoying myself, as anyone I've ever dated will affirm.

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