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Auto blogWed, 20 Nov 2013 21:00:00 EST
Nissan unveiled an even hotter version of the hotter Juke Nismo at the Los Angeles Auto Show - the Juke Nismo RS, a 215-horsepower crossover that may be the most hardcore model in the compact CUV segment (until we can convince Mazda to build a Mazdaspeed CX-5, that is).
The 215 hp and 210 pound-feet of torque represent bumps of 18 hp and 26 lb-ft over the standard Juke Nismo thanks to a revised ECU, a new exhaust with a larger diameter tube, and stronger connecting rods. This amped-up engine can be mated to the owner's choice of a six-speed manual, which takes advantage of a stronger clutch cover and dual-mass flywheel, or an Xtronic continuously variable transmission (although the CVT model loses four horsepower and all of the extra torque that the Nismo RS enjoys).
"We expect drivers to feel a noticeable increase in acceleration - especially the manual transmission model - in the RS versus the regular Juke Nismo. It also holds peak torque longer. Combined with the Helical Limited-Slip Differential, which helps reduce torque steer, the sense of driving excitement is unmatched in the Juke lineup," said Pierre Loing, Nissan's vice president of product and advanced planning and strategy.
Scratching All The Right Itches
Say what you will about the unconventional aesthetics that Nissan employed on the company's Juke. I love the thing. The universe has no shortage of ambiguously styled CUVs, and while I can't exactly say I would have turned to the amphibian world for design inspiration had it been me with the charcoal in my hand, I can certainly appreciate the fact that the Juke isn't just another box-on-box design.
And then there's that engine. The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder under the hood is one of the best powerplants in the company's toy box, offering plenty of low-range torque and comical levels of thrust. Hell, it even makes the optional continuously variable transmission tolerable. Praise be to the deities of forced induction. But something has always been missing from the mix. From the first moment I got my hands on the Juke, I couldn't help but think how much better the machine would be if Nissan ditched an inch or two of ground clearance and sharpened up its suspension. Think more "hot hatch" and less "Kermit goes to Kroger."
The Nissan Xterra might not be long for this world, according to a report from Edmunds. The rugged SUV, which has always been a bit more of a hardcore, purpose-built vehicle than the rest of the Nissan SUV range. But it has also suffered from slowing sales, low fuel economy relative to the competition and general neglect, as Nissan has focused on other offerings in its range.
"There are plans to replace it, there are always plans, (but) I am not sure it will happen. I would say in the next six months to a year," Pierre Loing, vice president of product planning for Nissan Americas told Edmunds. Part of the problem, he added, was that the Xterra is a US-only vehicle, which makes it a hard sell in a world where automakers are increasingly depending on global cars.
Besides the economic forces working against the Xterra, it's just a vehicle that hasn't been a huge sales success of late. Customers are more conscious of fuel economy and a body-on-frame SUV that only nets 16 miles per gallon just isn't good enough; arguably why Nissan barely sold 17,000 units last year. We can hold out hope, as the Xterra remains a fun off-roader that we'd hate to see go, but unless Nissan finds a business case or some global partners, this is a vehicle that is on its last leg.