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Nissan Juke-R

Click to view picture gallery“I’m not used to having a video
  camera stuck in my face at a press
  launch. But here we are at Nissan
s
  Sunderland factory with an earnest-
  looking interviewer asking me what
  I think about the possibility of Nissan
  putting the Juke-R into production.
  My disorientated brain doesn
t take
  long to reply in the affirmative
...”

THE REASON I'M DISORIENTATED is not just because of the furry, phallic microphone being thrust in my general direction. I've just spent a few choice minutes behind the wheel of one of the most bonkers cars ever created: the Juke-R.

The 'R' in the Juke's name is no joke either. In the Juke-R, Nissan really has created a cross between a humble supermini-sized hatchback and a GT-R. They want to know whether they should put it into production? Hell yeah!

The Juke-R is the crazed creation of Ray Mallock Ltd, the same motorsports outfit that also built the 350Z-engined Micra that I also got a chance to drive a few years back. The Juke-R is way more mental than that, yet at the same time much more resolved.


In fact, it's basically a Nissan GT-R shortened by 250mm to fit the Juke's more compact platform. On the car I've been driving, a 2010-spec GT-R donated its suspension and drivetrain. Nissan is therefore completely justified in putting the 'R' on the Juke's bootlid.

“It’s monstrously quick.
According to Nissan, the
Juke-R
s 485bhp 3.8-litre
V6 twin-turbo engine
propels it to 62mph in 3.7
seconds making it

the fastest SUV on the
road...”
In fact it's exactly the same length and height as a regular Juke and shares the same wheelbase. It's far wider, though, as its flared wheel arches have to cover GT-R axles and encompass massive 20-inch RAYS forged alloy wheels.

In the flesh the Juke-R looks like a menacing miniature rhinoceros with its matt-black paint, while a unique split rear wing completes the Mad Max transformation.

Inside, there are only two seats, each one an OMP race item. Any GT-R driver will feel instantly at home: all the controls and instruments come from the GT-R, including the 7-inch touchscreen centre display and, surprisingly, its dual-zone climate control and a CD player. The major difference is the presence of an FIA-specification roll cage adding substantial reinforcement to the Juke shell, plus an aluminium floor, though in fact the Juke-R sits on its own purpose-designed chassis.

Incredibly, this thing is actually road-legal. Nissan is not letting mere journalists like me out on public roads but I do get a chance to pummel it around a track for a few laps.

It's monstrously quick. According to Nissan, the Juke-R's 485bhp 3.8-litre V6 twin-turbo engine propels it to 62mph in 3.7 seconds. That may not be quite as quick as a GT-R (Nissan obligingly encouraged journalists to try out the GT-R's launch control system and pretty much everyone achieved 0-62mph in between 3.0 and 3.3 seconds) but it's surely the fastest SUV on the road.

The top speed is a healthy but not totally insane 160mph, a figure apparently restricted by weight and aerodynamics (the lighter, more slippery GT-R's top speed is well over 190mph). It's incredibly noisy, but in a healthy, race-style way.

“Nissan is now making
a limited run on
a special-order basis,
and has already
received three orders at
a reputed price of
around 150,000
...”
How about handling? The Juke's shorter wheelbase makes it, if anything, even more chuckable than a GT-R. Turn-in is slightly crisper and the car definitely feels more lively in corners.

Overcooking entry speeds into bends with the damper switch set to 'normal' results in ESP-controlled understeer. It's quite possible to dial up some tail-out action, though, if you're brutal enough. You might want to be a little circumspect though: tyre wear during the track test phase was basically one fresh set of rubber per day. Ouch.

The steering and Brembo brakes are taken straight from the GT-R, so unsurprisingly these feel very similar to the big coupe.

Just two Juke-Rs have been built so far, one right-hand drive, the other a left-hooker, but there are shortly to be at least three more. And Nissan has announced that it's making a limited run on a special-order basis; it has already received three orders at a reputed price of around 150,000. If you think there's space for one on your driveway, just register an interest by sending an email to Juke-R@Nissan.co.uk.

The production version is going to be even more powerful, with 550bhp, since it's based on the latest 2012 GT-R. The Juke-R could well turn out to be the joker to trump them all in the performance car pack. — Chris Rees

Nissan Juke-R | 150,000 (est)
Maximum speed: 160mph | 0-62mph: 3.7 seconds | Overall MPG: n/a
Power: 485bhp | Torque: 433lb ft | CO2 n/a