Nissan Juke R review (2012 onwards)
What - Nissan Juke R
Where - Silverstone
Date - May 2012
Price - £250,000+ (est)
Available - late 2012
Key rivals - Are there any?
Summary - Bonkers clone of family Juke with Nissan GT-R. And you can order one now!
We like - Awesome performance, unbeatable on-road presence, brilliant chassis
We don't like - Twitchier than the GT-R, frightening price
You know about the Juke, that little runt of the Nissan crossover fleet that buyers love despite its appearance. And you also know about the GT-R, the supercar Nissan that humbles anything Porsche can throw at it around the Nurburgring.
Well, someone at Nissan in the UK thought it might be a good idea to blend the aggressive bits of the GT-R into the little Juke. Two examples have been built and developed in the UK. The British are, after all, the best in the world when it comes to motorsport-related engineering.
Blends the aggressive bits of the GT-R
The first two Juke Rs are based on the platform of the 2010 GT-R but in past days Nissan has announced that it will build at least three more for customers, this time with the running gear of the 2012 GT-R.
That means an additional 60hp over the car driven here at Silverstone! Hand built by RML Motorsport, the guys who run the dominant World Touring Cars Chevrolet Cruze, it could cost in excess of a quarter of a million pounds. Still if you have to ask about the price...
Most Jukes are sold with an engine that produces around 115hp. The top model, until now, gets 190hp. The Juke R has 485hp!
Squeezing the GT-R's powertrain into a car as short as the Juke has its problems, but you wouldn't know it. The Juke R gets all the automatic transmission functionality that makes the GT-R easy to live with.
Yet it's impossible to avoid the paddle shifts for long. 3.7 seconds to 62mph is within a whisker of a 911 Turbo, and rather more surprising in a hatchback like the Juke.
The traction through the four-wheel-drive is simply staggering, and if you have the right opportunity, the Juke R will reach 160mph. It could do more, but Nissan rightly feels this is enough for a family car.
Ride and handling
It was so wet at Silverstone that initially the circuit was closed because it was considered too dangerous. When I eventually did get out in the Juke there were a trepidatious few laps, finding a drying line through the corners and avoiding the worst of the puddles.
Finally it was time to adjust the suspension to deliver its most benign responses, to minimise the risk of an oversteering disaster into the Armco, and to floor the throttle.
Push the Juke closer and closer to the edge
The results were rather astonishing. Such is the sophistication of the chassis electronics that the Juke R shrugged off the general awfulness of the track conditions by controlling, to the finest degree, the power transmitted to the tyres.
Just a short acclimatisation is needed to gain the confidence to push the Juke closer and closer to the edge. The four-wheel-drive gives uncanny balance and driver confidence throughout the National circuit.
Of course the Juke R can be provoked into understeer and oversteer when a racier setting is chosen for the electronic control systems. Some drivers will conclude the Juke R is a more interactive car than the technology would have you believe.
That's only partly true. You can exploit the fine dynamics on a race track, certainly. But on the road. That's more of a moot point.
This is no regular Juke. There are OMP racing buckets in front and it's full of roll cage in place of the rear seats behind. The dashboard has the vestiges of the family hatch, but there is a host of extra dials and switches to cover the functions you find in the Juke's big brother.
Eminently suitable for everyday use
It's still comfortable though. The ride is admittedly firm and Silverstone isn't the best place to asses the suspension subtlety - or noise levels when you've a crash helmet on - but this Juke R seems eminently suitable for everyday use.
Mind you, a GT-R is arguably even more practical so let's not go down the 'practical family supercar' too far. This is still a decidedly oddball machine.
Economy and safety
Hmmm. Is either of these even on your list when considering a car like this? The safety features of the regular Juke transfer well enough, at least in the airbag department, though heaven knows how it will performance in a crash. The safety cage should help.
As for economy, well the GT-R is said to average 24mpg in the statutory tests. We reckon 14mpg when driven in anger is more plausible for the Juke R.
The MSN Cars verdict
The Juke R is a digital driving experience, and as such is a massive success. Taming GT-R horsepower in a car that is shorter and taller, without disastrous consequences, is quite an achievement.
Yet even setting aside the likely cost of the few Juke Rs that will be delivered to customers, traditional supercars like the Porsche 911 demand more driving skill, and arguably deliver more gratification. Satisfaction is not merely about how fast you can go.
Need to know
Engines, petrol 3.8 V6 Twin Turbo
Power hp 485
Torque, lb ft 433
0-62 mph, secs 3.7
Top speed, mph 160
Mpg combined na
CO2, g/km / Tax n/a