On paper, the Ford Fiesta ST and the Nissan Juke Nismo seem to be the perfect matchup: both produce exactly 197 horsepower from a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, both have a six-speed manual transmission, both cost around $25,000, both have a five-door hatchback body style, and, most importantly, both have serious performance aspirations. But these two cars take entirely different approaches to achieving the hot hatch ideal.
Which is better? The comments from our editors tell the story.
2013 Nissan Juke Nismo
“Nismo has no real identity for me, but I still love the Juke for being so quirky and fun. Nismo tuning takes everything outrageous about the Nissan Juke and makes it just a bit more outrageous. So weird, so fun.” – Phil Floraday, senior web editor
“I was a proponent of our Four Seasons Nissan Juke, so I was excited to drive this Nismo version. It met my expectations, which is to say it's really just a normal Juke with a cool body kit, cool interior, ugly wheels, and slightly firmer suspension. (No, I couldn't feel the nine extra horsepower.) The Juke is surprisingly quick and handles reasonably well for a small crossover, but it didn't make me grin the way the Fiesta did.” – Jake Holmes, associate web editor
“Looks great. Obviously the Nissan Juke's styling isn't for everyone, and the Nismo package doesn't change that—it embellishes it. I love the angry toad look. Ford had a better driving starting point than Nissan, though—the Fiesta in any form has great steering and excellent body control, whereas the base Juke has numb steering and awful body control. The Nismo is fun (and fun to look at) and definitely offers improvement over the base Juke, but the Fiesta is a full-fledged performance car.” – David Zenlea, associate editor
“The NISMO edition looks even more ridiculous than the normal Nissan Juke, which is saying something. I'm sure some Juke buyers will really dig it, but I don’t. Looking at it next to the fantastic Ford Fiesta ST definitely hurt my perception of the NISMO Juke.” – Rusty Blackwell, copy editor
2013 Ford Fiesta ST
“Wow, this is probably the biggest surprise of 2013 for me. This is the best Ford car I've ever driven after the Boss 302. The Ford Fiesta ST feels fantastic and stable at all times, the ride felt soft enough for daily driving, the power is absolutely perfect for the car's footprint, and nothing feels artificial. Wow, $25k and I can have my own? I might even take the Fiesta ST over a VW GTI.” – Phil Floraday, senior web editor
“Real steering, real brakes, real pedal action, real gearshifter, real chassis tuning. Very nice.” – Joe DeMatio, deputy editor
“While the Nismo Juke takes itself a little too seriously, the Ford Fiesta ST is playful and comfortable in its skin. You can't help but drive the Fiesta with a ridiculous grin on your face as it wills you to toss it into a corner and induce a little lift-off oversteer.” – Tom Foley, motor gopher
“This is the car the Ford Focus ST should have been. While the Focus is ruined by excess power and middling control, the Fiesta ST is incredibly well-balanced in every respect. It's a riot to run through the gears, the handling is nicely judged, and I'm surprised at how comfortable the ride is given the low-profile tires and aggressive suspension. In fact, there is very little I dislike about the Ford Fiesta ST. I wish the steering communicated more, but it isn't as numb as some other modern sports cars. I dislike the high, uncomfortable seating position, but that's common to all new Fords. Other than that, this is one of the best hot hatches I've ever driven.” – Jake Holmes, associate web editor
2014 Ford Fiesta ST
Photos by Patrick Hoey.
|Base Price (w/ destination)||Price as Tested (w/ destination)||Engine||Transmission||Curb Weight||EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined)|
|2014 Ford Fiesta ST||$22,195||$24,985||1.6L turbo I-4, 197 hp, 202 lb-ft||6-speed manual||2742 lbs||26/35/29 mpg|
|2013 Nissan Juke Nismo||$23,780||$25,195||1.6L turbo I-4, 197 hp, 184 lb-ft||6-speed manual||2930 lbs||25/31/27 mpg|