What with councils that can afford Tarmac for suspension damaging speed bumps but not pot holes, and traffic lights operating 24 hours a day when they are only necessary at peak times, it can be hard to remain cheerful about motoring. And don£€™t start me about the waste of movement space that are bus lanes.
So, thanks are due to Nissan for not only building the different-looking Juke crossover to light up our dull roads with their confusing myriad of unnecessary signs. And Nissan deserves another bouquet for offering as a top of the range model the refreshingly bonkers Nismo RS.
£€˜Soft£€™ roaders aren£€™t really my thing but with 215bhp the competition inspired Nismo RS has more power than the legendary, original Ford Sierra Cosworth and that makes it genuine fun while remaining practical. Nismo is a contraction of Nissan Motorsport but most people will only know the name from computer games.
You sit high so you can look over walls and hedges when stuck in traffic and to most of the dozy drivers on the road it£€™s just another Juke. They don£€™t notice the 18 inch Nismo alloy wheels in the wider wheel arches or the double grilles that gulp air to cool the tuned engine or the aerodynamics enhancing front £€˜splitter£€™ spoiler.
Deeper side skirts and the car£€™s short wheelbase, give the Nismo RS a rallycar-like squat profile. And at the back there£€™s an aerodynamic £€˜diffuser£€™ but you probably would have to be doing 150mph for it to have any real effect and the Juke£€™s top speed is 137mph.
The six-speed manual gearbox model as tested is only front wheel drive so you need some care/skill to master the wheel spin on slippery roads. The automatic comes with all-wheel drive and a system that splits power from side to side across the rear axle.
There are luxury Recaro £€˜suede£€™ timmed sports seats and a grippy Alcantara-rimmed steering wheel. A red marker on the wheel tells the driver when the wheels are pointing straight ahead if on a track. Rear seat space is tight.
Being tall I needed a steering column that adjusted for reach and not just tilted. The Japanese love gadgets so the Juke comes with some clever kit. Press the climate control button and all the buttons work the heating system.
Chose D-mode and they select eco, normal or sport driving modes. You can change the steering effort and accelerator response. People seem to be forgetting how to overtake slower cars but with great mid-range performance and superior forward vision such opportunities are more frequent in this Nismoed Juke.
You need to anticipate needing power as the turbo takes a bit of time to wind up. Braking power is strong but obviously, a tall vehicle, even based on a supermini, isn£€™t going to go round bends as well as a low slung one but with stiffened suspension the Nismo RS has enough ability.
Yes, it leans a bit and the steering doesn£€™t have enough feel, but if you can drive this car and not have a grin on face you must be in an average speed camera zone. Incidentally, after claimed success I hear the zoned A9 in Scotland is seeing more accidents.
The road was terrifying on a recent holiday. It£€™s bad enough being stuck alongside a 42 tonner on the M6 but with lorries limited to 50mph and cars overtaking and then braking hard to keep their average speed down to 60mph the receipe for disaster is clear.
Juke prices start at £13,995 but the Nismo RS is £22,180 in manual gearbox form. It£€™s a spirited drive and distinctive but it isn£€™t going to catch Peugeot£€™s more elegant performance hatch the 208GTI on the twisty stuff.
Verdict Sporty fun for those who don£€™t take life too seriously