‘What do you get if you put a Nissan GT-R engine in a Nissan Juke’ was a beyond-your-wildest-dreams question that nobody asked, but which Nissan answered back in 2012 with the Juke-R. No joke: it was a GT-R-Juke.
Engineered and built by crack British race team RML, it went on to tour the world and wow millions with its surprisingly accomplished (and largely sideways and smokey) talents. Nissan may love its EVs but with this, it also created a ‘hybrid’, one that’s done wonders for the brand.
Then, in 2014, the Juke was facelifted, getting sparkly new LED headlights, a new grille and much-needed extra boot space. So that was that for the pre-facelift Juke-R? Not a bit. Since then, it’s been back to work for the RML boys.
At the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, their efforts were revealed – the Nissan Juke-R 2.0, or the facelifted version of Nissan’s wildest car on sale. Present and correct is the new LED-equipped front and rear styling, along with new bumpers now made fully from carbon fibre.
The front bumper has 100% bigger cooling apertures, and for good reason; Nissan has bumped the power of the GT-R engine up to a Nismo-matching 600hp. Truly astonishing. It has also sweated on the detail of the bodywork, so it’s smoother and better integrated, while the wheels are all-new GT-R rims.
Note how we said ‘on sale’? Yes, you can actually buy a road-going Juke-R 2.0. Provided you have £406,000 to spare. You would get stopped everywhere by people (and the police) swearing blind it couldn’t ever be road-legal, so wild is it. Reason enough to want one – but, as we discovered, it’s also pretty handy to drive, too…
2015 Nissan Juke-R 2.0: On the road
You step past a huge roll cage to enter the Juke-R 2.0, getting into full-race buckets with four-point harnesses. Do them up and you won’t reach the door to close it. With a fantastic dash mix of Juke shapes and GT-R displays, the effect is not unlike sitting in a BTCC car. It’s the same silhouette, but thoroughly outfitted like a race car.
Unlike the GT-R, you sit really high, feeling like you’re towering over the road, yet the intrusive windscreen pillars make it tricky to see through corners. All this, plus the knowledge IT IS A JUKE WITH 600HP frankly terrifies you even before you start the 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo engine sitting where a 1.5 diesel normally does.
It’s terror that barely diminishes. Just like the GT-R, Nissan’s 600hp Juke is ludicrously fast. We’re talking 0-62mph in three seconds here, with four-wheel-drive bite and fiendishly clever computers overseeing it all, ensuring the shock you get when you emerge from the Silverstone pit lane is total and absolute.
Tepid show car? Not a bit. Earlier, we’d been out in a ‘real’ GT-R Nismo and the electric similarities between Godzilla and its space monkey cousin were remarkable – particularly the staggering power and willingness to deploy it. You can barely paddle-change gear fast enough, and you certainly have to work the brakes hard to shed all the speed you’ve so quickly gained.
There are differences. The height and packaging limitations of the Juke platform mean it rolls more in corners, feels less anchored than the GT-R and, crucially, the shorter wheelbase makes it much livelier and more agile.
The latter is actually a good thing, in some ways, as you can actually turn into corners more sharply than in the big, heavy GT-R. The immediacy and bite is astounding. But, if you’re not quick enough, it will bite you; this is a hyper-responsive car that demands concentration. Given how much power it has, it’s worth bearing that in mind.
Speaking of power, the round boost that’s taken it up to 600hp? It’s made a car that was already a colossus of a performer even more mind-blowing. It reminded us of Ferraris Scuderia and Speciale – boy, you have to be good to use it properly. But boy, are the rewards there if you do.
This is why it’s so brilliant. What’s more, if you want to buy one, RML and Nissan will teach you how to drive it properly, to get the best from its race-tuned chassis. As unlikely as it sounds, this will make it one of the closest genuine road-going race car experiences you can get. A cult car that doesn’t disappoint behind the wheel – just as it should be.
2015 Nissan Juke-R 2.0: On the inside
Nissan’s quite proud of this bit. Because it does actually start life as a production-spec Juke, buyers can first choose the level of interior kit they’d like, and the trim colours for the dash and doors, before RML takes over and R 2.0’s the rest of it.
It means that functions such as climate control, auto headlights and fancy colour-matched trim lines are retained, surrounding the genuine GT-R dials, levers and displays within. Note that all those displays are fully functional as well – far from an easy job.
We’ve covered the obvious stuff like the fact you have a humongous roll cage surrounding you – it’s there to make the chassis as stiff as it is in the GT-R – and the fact visibility could be better. It’s hardly the car you’ll use to quickly nip to the shops.
For this reason, you should also have a standard Juke waiting in the wings. Or maybe a standard GT-R. But the very fact that such a race-engineered hybrid supercar such as this is road-legal and relatively practical is a real achievement. Just don’t think of it as a school-run squirtabout.
2015 Nissan Juke-R 2.0: Running costs
Hmm, where do we start? Perhaps best not to go here. The GT-R itself is hardly a cheap car to run. It’s very thirsty, has a hunger for tyres and servicing is both regular and, if you don’t have a Nissan service pack, ruinous by regular car standards.
The Juke-R 2.0 can only further up the ante, due to its scratch-built nature and race car ideals. You’ll have a bit of explaining to do with your insurance company and it’s not going to be one you’ll drop into your local Nissan dealer on a whim.
There are positives, though. Retained values for one. It may not be a star performer short-term but, in the long run, a cult car this wild can only spiral in value – particularly as Nissan has vowed to make no more than 23.
For most who’ll be buying it, though, all this is immaterial. They can afford any car in the world with ease – this will be brought for their collection and perhaps for occasional showboating. Running costs are simply not an issue.
2015 Nissan Juke-R 2.0: Verdict
The Nissan Juke-R 2.0 terrified us, wowed us, amazed us, and terrified us. Think they don’t make scary monster-cars like they did in the olden days? Think again. It looks brutally nuts, but rightly so. It is.
But if you’re good enough, it’s also usable explosive performance. Unlike other supermini supercars such as the old Renault Clio V6, RML has done a proper job engineering the Juke-R 2.0 as thoroughly as it would a race car, and it shows.
There’s many a supercar that doesn’t feel this special and outlandish to drive. Given the fact that you can actually buy one and drive it on the road despite it looking like a GT-racing wannabe, it’s hard not to be seduced by the Juke-R 2.0. Reputation: warranted.
2015 Nissan Juke-R 2.0: specifications
Engine: 3.8-litre V6 twin-turbo
Top speed: TBA
Fuel economy: TBA
CO2 emissions: TBA