Nissan's JUKE-R: Heart of a lion, body of a soccer mum
Happy times must be returning to the world economy when a car company can put its cash toward a concept like this. Nissan has fulfilled the wet dreams of hot hatch lovers all over the world by cramming the engine, drivetrain, suspension, electronics and sheer maniacal giggle factor of its monstrous GT-R supercar into the compact dimensions of the funky Juke city car. The Nissan Juke R (which can really only be pronounced as "Jew car") is an outstanding example of what happens when you give your best engineers the freedom to build what's in their hearts - in this case, a 480-horsepower, 4WD mega-mini-SUV that handles like a racer and should eat Ferraris for breakfast on the way to pick up the kids from soccer. Awesome.
Here is a 2011 Nissan Juke:
And here is a 2011 Nissan GT-R.
The two cars don't have an awful lot in common; the Juke is a fairly successful new mini-crossover city car designed to appeal to urban mums who like the feel of an SUV but aren't too keen on driving something as big as a tank. The GT-R is Nissan's flagship performance machine, a "budget" supercar that punches well above its price category.
But Nissan's engineers saw some sporty potential in the Juke's body shape, and thus embarked on an ambitious 22-week project to create what might be the world's first mini-SUV supercar.
At its heart, the Juke R is far more GT-R than Juke. In fact, it's a GT-R in just about every way that's important - the Juke body is more or less completely gutted to make way for a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 supercar engine, the GT-R's paddle-shift transmission, midship AWD drivetrain, wheels, brakes and suspension.
It's fitted with racing seats and the body is strengthened with a rollcage. The steering column, paddle shift and vast onboard computer systems of the GT-R have all been crammed in - including traction control, stability control and torque vectoring - and the touchscreen dash has all the goodies of its donor car, including the G-meter to measure just how hard you're cornering.
The Juke body shape has more or less been lowered on top of the GT-R platform, albeit with the entire floor section cut away and rebuilt. The wheelbase is some 25 cm (9.8 in) shorter than the GT-R's, necessitating custom built drive shafts. And the entire driver's cabin ends up starting about 10 cm (3.9 in) further toward the rear than in a standard Juke, due to the difficulty of cramming 3.8 liters worth of testosterone into an engine bay designed for 1.6 liters of estrogen.
With the engine, chassis, drivetrain, interior and body complete, the last thing to update was the exterior - this was achieved with a custom built carbon bodykit replacing the bumpers and enhancing the side panels. A nifty looking twin spoiler adorns the rear.
In foreboding matte black, this thing looks every bit the part of a supercar eater - and the raging performance beast within should make it a spectacular driver's car. Nissan is building two for now - one each of right and left hand drive - and since the seats and rollcage are clearly designed to meet racetrack regulations, we may well see the Juke R in some form of competition.
I just hope they remember its roots, and race it with a kiddy seat and five bags of shopping in the back.
Enjoy our massive image gallery by clicking through on any of the photos above, and check out Nissan's 8-part short video series on the making of the Juke R below. Oh, and try not to hear "Jew car" every time they say its name. That would be really distracting.