Crazy little thing called love for Nissan's fantasy mini
Who would pay nearly €500,000 for a Nissan? This mad mix of supermini and racer is so bonkers you have to admire its makers’ chutzpah, writes IAN BEATTY
SO BY SOME bizarre twist of fate – or a lottery win – you have €450,000 to spend on a supercar. Bentley? Lamborghini? Maybe a Ferrari? What about a Nissan supermini?
Before your head melts with the lunacy of it all, consider that this is a little racer that will get from standstill to 100km/h in less than four seconds, is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 putting out nearly 500bhp, and takes corners like it’s attached to the road with superglue.
Yes, the Juke-R is as bonkers as you imagine: a car as in tune with the times as a crate of Cristal champagne at a factory closure. And yet, somewhere in the depths of our motoring fanaticism, we admire the chutzpah of the engineers who came up with this gloriously inappropriate car in the midst of a global recession.
The Juke crossover isn’t a vehicle you would necessarily associate with speed and agility; however, Nissan recently decided to set about creating a Juke like no other, aptly named the Juke-R. The Juke-R is a sports car crossover concept, mixing the mechanical running gear of Nissan’s range-topping GT-R with the body of a Juke. It’s a rather off-the-wall project, but one that Nissan has executed with aplomb.
The Juke-R has been developed with the motorsports company RML, with advice from Nissan Technical Centre Europe. Nissan and RML have built two Juke-Rs, one right-hand drive and one left-hand drive.
Although the Juke-R has the same height, length and wheelbase as the regular Juke, its width has been increased by 145mm. Its looks are imposing, too: it is finished in matt black with flared wheel arches (covering immense 20in forged alloy wheels) and a split rear wing. The regular interior has been discarded to make room for a full FIA-approved safety roll cage, complete with two race seats and five-point harnesses. The dashboard has been modified to accommodate the 7in information screen from the GT-R, and all the gauges and instrument dials have also come directly from the GT-R. The entire car’s vital data, such as oil temperature, oil pressure and transmission oil temperature, are displayed on the large colour screen, which takes centre stage within the dashboard. Roll cage and racing seats aside, the interior of the Juke-R is uncannily similar to that of a GT-R.
The engine and transmission exemplify the heart of the Juke-R, adopting the “R” tag from Nissan’s supercar GT-R model. Major modifications to the Juke’s chassis were undertaken in order to accommodate the GT-R’s engine and transmission. Sitting snugly under the Juke-R’s bonnet is the same twin-turbo petrol engine that powers the GT-R; it’s mated to a six-speed twin-clutch transmission. The prop shaft has been modified to allow for the shorter wheelbase of the Juke in comparison to that of the GT-R. The result of this unlikely marriage of engine and body is a Juke that’s capable of accelerating to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds.
The Juke-R produces a remarkable 485hp and 588Nm of torque. Its top speed is slightly slower than that of its GT-R relative, due to the improved aerodynamic shape of the GT-R; nonetheless, it’s easily the world’s fastest crossover.