A Nissan Juke with the engine of a GT-R? Ben Griffin had a short but memorable blast in the most powerful crossover on the planet at a picturesque airfield in France.
There’s something alluring about the ‘Q car’ or the ‘sleeper’, depending on your preferred terminology. A car that looks perfectly mundane but, thanks to serious under-bonnet fettling, is more than a bit special. What’s not to like?
Nissan’s own wolf in sheep’s clothing is the Juke-R, a Juke with a resculpted body and the heart of a Nissan GT-R. Yes, we’re talking about Godzilla.
To be fair the Juke-R’s matt black paintjob, bodykit and other various exterior details mean it’s design is more wolf than sheep. Its internals, meanwhile, are more velociraptor than wolf.
In its second generation form the Juke-R has the uprated internals of the latest GT-R, which means a healthy output of 591bhp (the original Juke-R had 545bhp), a 0-62mph time of three seconds and a top speed somewhere beyond 167mph. Ample for a car originally designed to take kids to school.
In addition, it has a new carbon fibre front bumper with air intakes more than 100 per cent larger than before, simply because the engine needs even more cooling. Then there’s a new carbon fibre rear bumper with a revised diffuser to improve downforce, new side sills (also carbon fibre) and a matt black bonnet made from, you’ve guessed it, carbon fibre.
Anyone who has driven a GT-R will know it seems to be able to make physics take the day off. It corners so fast and accelerates so savagely (0-62mph in less than three seconds) that it leaves your spine in a gooey mess. But it’s a big brute of a car and so naturally you treat it with respect.
Sitting in a smaller car like the Juke-R, it’s a slightly different story. The novelty of having more than 500hp in the quirky family runaround never really goes away, and its pint-sized proportions only emphasise just how much power it has.
Apply the brakes hard and it feels a black hole just opened up behind you. As for the acceleration, well, there’s fast, then there’s GT-R and Juke-R fast, which is so intense that you actually have virtually no time to enjoy it properly. Everything goes all blurry, leaving you to hang on for dear life.
Touching the accelerator invariably means you end up approaching the next corner carrying a lot more speed than you perhaps intended. That’s not to say the Juke-R is a handful or unruly. In fact, it can feel remarkably calm (unlike our heart rate), transforming from the Hulk to Bruce Banner at low speeds.
Before we know it our time in the Juke-R is over and a chap from Nissan is helping us undo our harness, possibly also checking to see if we left a mess on the seat. It’s been a brief encounter, but one that makes us wish we had half a million quid to spunk on one. Honestly, no drive in a crossover will ever be the same again – even the Juke Nismo RS will seem dull.
The Juke-R is so unashamedly derranged and so utterly intense it leaves you wanting more in a way the GT-R can’t match. Sure, its bigger brother looks more special, but we love the slightly unassuming appearance, the novelty factor and the fact it’s based on a regular family crossover.
Nissan is yet to announce if it will sell a production version of the Juke-R 2.0, but those who approach the Japanese manufacturer brandishing bags of money will probably get their wish (four examples of the old car were made, fetching £500,000 apiece). Now where did we put the corporate credit card?