You are here
The 485bhp Nissan Juke-R: driven
If anyone whinges that the car industry’s lacking a sense of humour, print out the next sentence, roll it up tightly and hit them in the face with it. Nissan has built two street-legal GT-R-powered Juke concepts.
But there’s a good chance you already know that - for the last few months, Nissan’s been trickle-feeding the internet with tantalising videos of a hollowed Juke shell being offered the fun bits of a four-wheel drive, 485bhp GT-R. You’ll also know that the collision between supercar and lifestyley shopping cart’s been an extensive one, carried out in just 22 weeks by race engineers, RML.
But has the
online saturation diluted its impact in real life? Categorically, wholly not.
If anything, the visual pheromones are stronger because you get to see, in full
measure, the realisation of such a ludicrous brief. Michael Mallock, the man in
charge of the project at RML, says: “As well as fitting up the Juke with GT-R
technology, we built it so your granny could drive it to the shops.”
So long as she could feed her limbs through the roll cage, she really
could. There’s no convoluted starting procedure to master; you open the door,
survey a fully carpeted cabin, sit in your bucket seat and press the big, red
The dashboard and instrumentation are just as incongruous. It’s not the grim
patchwork of toggle switches and gaffer tape you’d expect – inside, it looks
standard. The GT-R’s touchscreen driver interface (the one with the g meter),
dials, gear level and steering wheel (with working paddleshift) have all been
gently massaged alongside the standard switchgear.
The only obvious change is the front seat. It’s noticeably further back because
the bulkhead’s been moved to accommodate the engine, pushing the dash 100mm deeper
into the cabin. The rear seats have disappeared altogether to make room for the
massive GT-R drivetrain.
Outside might not quite be to granny’s taste, though. The muscly body kit’s
been built from carbonfibre-like composite, and it’s not just for show. The perforated bumper
helps with cooling, and allows the GT-R’s entire – and considerable - radiator
and intercooler setup to slot in. It’s also bonded to the shell with the same
glue that F1 chassis are built with. Tasty.
But this is Jukezilla – the questions you want answered are the performance
ones, right? So, is it fast? God yes. It gets to 62mph in 3.7 seconds. THREE
POINT SEVEN. That’s 0.6 seconds quicker than an Aston DBS. But it’s not as
quick as a GT-R – the Juke-R is 76kgs heavier than its donor because of the
full Motorsport Association-spec roll cage and extensively tinkered floor pan.
3.7 seconds is still astonishingly quick, though. Ferrari 458 Italia quick. And
it feels it. But in a very un-GT-Ry way. It’s utterly, utterly savage. With the
throttle pinned all four wheels skitter forward with such force it feels like
they’re trying to run away from the bodywork, which lifts up the whole shell
several terrifying inches. Then, when you change gear, it dips momentarily while
the double-clutch ‘box arranges a taller ratio, continues to charge in much the
same startling vein.
Slowing down’s similarly distressing. Underneath, it’s got the same massive
380mm ventilated and cross-drilled brake package you’d find on a 2011 GT-R,
which is capable of removing your buttocks entirely clear of the seat. It does
writhe a bit when you’re this heavy with them, though, which isn’t terribly
But it’s the cornering that’s really interesting. Considering the GT-R
wheelbase has been abbreviated by 250mm, and that the Juke’s got a far taller
centre of gravity, you’d imagine there’d be all sorts of interesting handling
maladies. But it turns in wide-eyed and enthusiastically - stiffer anti-roll
bars, dampers and springs take care of body roll, and torque-vectoring tech’s
been borrowed from the donor should ambition surpass ability.
That said, it’s a little understeery (though Mallock assures us that it’s been
dialled in “so everyone can drive it” after testing at MIRA), but the huge
track and wheels (9.5-inch front and 10.5-inch rear) help gather things up
But you can forgive it on grounds of sheer preposterousness. And that it’ll
never see production – they’re just concepts, remember. As a whole car – and
engineering feat – it’s spectacular. Save for a slightly crumpled headlining,
fit and finish is factory standard and the drive’s infinitely better than you’d
expect from a one-off (well, two-off) hand-built prototype. As well as blowing
away the seen-it-all cobwebs, it demonstrates that, despite economic
turbulence, some car manufacturers are still game for a slightly maniacal