It's not a race car, it's a road model, but the production version of Nissan's Juke Nismo comes out of the famed Nissan International Motorsport skunk works, so it's fitting that it should make its world debut at this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside the Nissan DeltaWing and Juke-R.
Previously seen as a concept at the Tokyo and Geneva motor shows, it's the first in a series of new Nismo models, with enhanced styling, more performance and sportier handling, inspired by Nissan's motorsport heritage, which goes back to 1984.
The Juke Nismo combines the distinctive Juke design with a new aero kit featuring lower front and rear bumpers, wider wings and side skirts, and a modified grille and tailgate spoiler to reduce front and rear lift without increasing drag. New 18” alloy rims with wider tyres offer improved grip, and further boost the Juke's on-road presence.
The Juke Nismo has a tweaked version of the standard 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine, derived from the one developed for the DeltaWing Le Mans race car. Stiffer suspension settings and uprated steering deliver sportier, more direct handling and improved traction, and the new model will also be available with torque vectoring for better grip and cornering ability.
The Nismo treatment continues inside the cabin, where the steering wheel, pedals, gauges, gear knob and door trims have been revised to reflect the car's performance persona, and special suede-trimmed Nismo sports seats with red stitching provide additional side support for serious cornering.
FROM THE SAME STABLE AS JUKE-R
The Juke performance story began late in 2011 with the creation of the Juke-R, which was intended initially as a one-off concept, but has now been put into limited production due to demand. This weekend the new Juke Nismo will sit alongside the Juke-R at Le Mans.
The Juke Nismo will be built at Nissan's UK plant in Sunderland, alongside other members of the Juke family, and sales in Europe are due to start early in January 2013. Nissan SA says no decision has been made as yet as to whether it will be released in South Africa.