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Nissan Juke Nismo RS boasts big power for tiny SUV (pictures)

The minuscule Nissan Juke gets tuned up by the folks at Nismo, getting it up to 215 horsepower and gaining the RS letters to denote its superiority in the lineup.

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Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 28 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The Nissan Juke is a funky-looking compact SUV, loved by enough people that Nissan let its motorsports division run wild with it.

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This latest trim level gains a new Nismo RS badge, denoting its enhanced engine tuning.

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For Nismo and Nismo RS trims, the Juke comes in black, silver or white, each with red mirror caps.

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The engine in the Nismo RS boasts a new management program and performance exhaust, bringing it up to 215 horsepower.

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Although its compact dimensions make it similar to many other small hatchbacks, the Juke's high riding position put it in SUV territory, or sport crossover, and Nissan calls it.

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Architectural blinker lights sit on top of the fenders, while round halogen headlights illuminate the road.

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The Nismo RS, like other Jukes, can be had in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive gets a better rear suspension and torque vectoring, but also comes saddled with a continuously variable transmission.

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Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on the Juke Nismo RS, as do ventilated brake discs and four-piston calipers.

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The front-wheel-drive Juke Nismo RS, seen here, makes do with a torsion bar rear suspension.

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The rear seats fold down, bringing cargo space up to 35.9 cubic feet.

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Recaro seats in black and red come standard in the Juke Nismo RS, but high bolsters negatively affect cabin access.

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Minimal padding makes these seats less comfortable on long trips.

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The rear seat is the same bench found in the Juke Nismo.

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Hard plastics cover the dashboard, while the Nismo RS also gets fake carbon fiber trim pieces.

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The electric power steering includes a sport program to enhance response.

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The red face for the tachometer and red band at the top of the steering wheel come as standard in the Nismo RS.

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Every Juke can be had with a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission, but those also dictate front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive choices.

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The navigation head unit is a $1,200 option in the Juke Nismo RS.

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The D-mode controls sit below the navigation system, offering Sport, Normal and Eco settings.

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Each drive setting changes throttle response, steering program and climate control tuning.

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A rearview camera is the only driver assistance feature in the Juke Nismo RS.

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The navigation system runs on a small, 5.8-inch touchscreen.

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The app and information screen shows Sirius Travel Link data, and offers access to Nissan Connect apps.

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Nissan Connect currently only includes iHeartRadio, Google search and Facebook integration.

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Google search is very useful for up-to-date destination results based on freeform search terms.

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For audio sources, the Juke Nismo RS includes a USB port, Bluetooth streaming, a CD player, and satellite and broadcast radio.

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iOS integration through the USB port shows robust track information, including album art.

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A Rockford Fosgate audio system includes six speakers and a subwoofer.

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