Nissan Juke
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Even with its mid-cycle facelift, the Juke retains its controversial styling and awesome driving experience; NISMO model gets a unique look and better performance.

Nissan’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers a healthy 188 horsepower and 197 in the NISMO; base six-speed manual gearbox is offered only in front-wheel-drive versions; continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional.

Although a more familiar presence on the roads, the Juke still divides opinion thanks to its unconventional looks. The compact tall wagon has a front end that sports a pair of audaciously shaped fenders that dominate the overall look. The revised headlights appear countersunk into the nose between the more aggressive bumper and the grille, while integrated arrow-shaped turn-signal pods are positioned on either side of the hood. The five-passenger cabin holds more freeform sculpting, especially the center console that was apparently designed to resemble a motorcycle fuel tank. The primary gauges are oversized, the front seats are well bolstered and the split-folding rear bench seat can be flattened to maximize cargo space. If those already distinctive lines aren’t enough, Nissan continues to offer a full-on NISMO (Nissan Motorsports) model, which comes with extras such as a more aggressive front fascia/bumper, lower side sills and a more aggressive rear bumper. The NISMO’s interior is less shouty, but still has sportier seats and red accents sprinkled throughout. Mechanically, the NISMO also sits lower with stiffer suspension and rides on unique 18-inch wheels with performance tires, making it a real blast to drive. The music for the NISMO Juke box comes by way of a 197-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (up from 188) and — like the regular Juke — can be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission in front-drive models only or an optional continuously variable unit (CVT). The available all-wheel-drive splits the torque up to 50 percent between the front and rear wheels when called upon and can also direct available rear-axle torque to the outside wheel in a turn for greater cornering stability. Base models are fairly basic with a six-speaker audio system with redundant steering-wheel controls, Bluetooth short-range wireless connectivity and 17-inch wheels. A wide assortment of extra-cost features — most of which are installed on up-level Jukes — includes a power moonroof, keyless entry and start, leather-covered seats, navigation system with rear-view monitor and premium sound package.