An enraged Christmas beetle… The matt-black Nissan Juke R looks decidedly insect-like as it crouches in pitlane at the Dubai Autodrome. A menacing assortment of bulges, scoops and aero addenda, it’s hard to believe this is an offering conjured up by a mainstream Japanese carmaker, rather than a prop knocked together for a sci-fi flick.
There’s been much debate on frothing internet forums about whether or not the Juke R is engineering marvel or pointless exercise. All Nissan is saying for now is that the hand-built Rs (one left-hand drive and one right-hooker) were built to test the waters for a sporty variant of the Juke. That said, it’s reasonable to speculate whatever eventually appears on the showroom floor won’t be anything like the outlandish creation jointly by Nissan and UK motorsport specialist RML — it’s simply too complex, compromised and expensive.
A quick recap: the Juke R project called for the two vehicles to be taken from conception to completion in 22 weeks, during which the entire drivetrain from the all-paw, twin-turbo GT-R had to be shoehorned into the much shorter and narrower Juke.
The exercise called for extensive surgery to the floorpan of the Juke, and myriad other engineering fiddles to make it all fit and function to the required standard for what’s billed as the “world’s fastest crossover”.
The project started with RML stripping out a GT-R and Juke, and cutting the floor out of the latter to accommodate the twin-turbo V6 engine, six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, differentials and electronics from the MY2010 ‘Godzilla’.
A large transmission tunnel had to be fabricated for the two propshafts — one relaying power from the engine to the rear-transaxle gearbox, and the other sending drive back from the gearbox to the front wheels. The propshafts also had to be truncated by 250mm owing to the Juke’s shorter wheelbase, and the engine also had to be housed well back (it extends aft of where the firewall used to be) as the mini-SUV has virtually nothing in the way of front overhang.
In addition, the Juke’s front and rear tracks had to be pushed out to accommodate the chunky 20-inch RAYS forged alloys — 9.5-inch wide at the front, and 10.5-inches at the rear — with the whole lot cloaked within pumped guards.
Bonnet and windscreen levels are unchanged vis-à-vis the donor vehicle, but the dashboard had to be moved back by 100mm, and the steering column angle has been adjusted up due to the Juke’s much higher seating position compared with the GT-R.
You also sit much further back than you would in a normal Juke — almost in line with the B-pillar. The centre console has the same customisable LCD display (presenting a variety of data ranging from g-force loadings to lap times) you’d find in a GT-R, but the housing for it was crafted by RML.
All up, the Juke R weighs about 76kg more than the GT-R, and that’s partly due to the FIA-compliant rollcage that provides the chassis with the rigidity it needs to cope with 362kW of grunt and 588Nm of twist, which in turn serve up a 3.7sec 0-100km/h split (on par with a Ferrari 458 Italia) and top whack of almost 260km/h… All figures that seem completely at odds with the almost comical profile of the Juke’s tallboy bodyshell.