Juke meets GT-R.... and the result is the ultimate compact crossover

  •  Looks like a Juke, goes like a GT-R
  •  One-off concept to test public's reaction to a sporty Juke
  •  Fully road legal, with GT-R drivetrain and chassis
  •  Fully-equipped with air conditioning and sound system
  •  Developed for Nissan by RML and Nissan Technical Centre Europe

Dubai (13 January 2012) - Question: What do you get when you cross a Nissan Juke with a Nissan GT-R?

Answer: The fastest, most exciting compact crossover in the world.

Not content with reshaping the new car market by inventing the crossover sector - a success reflected in the soaring sales of its Qashqai and Juke models - Nissan has now created the JUKE-R, the first ever super crossover.

From the outside, it is clearly a Juke, but the subtly-flared wheel arches, revised front and rear bumpers, unique split rear wing and sinister matt black paintjob hint that this is no regular Juke.

And with good reason, for this Juke thinks it's a GT-R. Under the bonnet is a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine taken from Nissan's flagship GT-R supercar. The result is a 485bhp car that will do 0-62mph (100kph) in 3.7 seconds, before continuing on to a top speed of 160mph (257kph).

The boot floor hides the GT-R's six-speed transaxle, with the GT-R's front and rear ends joined by a modified GT-R 4WD driveline and propshaft. Chunky 20-inch RAYS forged alloy wheels fill each wheel arch.

The interior merges racecar, supercar and crossover. Juke's dashboard has been transformed to accommodate the gauges, dials and 7-inch customisable LCD display from the GT-R. The Juke's iconic centre console, inspired by the fuel tank of a motorcycle, remains while the rest of the interior has the look of a machine bred for the track. Twin race-seats with five-point harnesses sit inside a visible roll cage that complies with FIA safety standards and offers enhanced rigidity to provide the ultimate performance.

Best of all, JUKE-R is completely road legal, though there are no plans for series production. It has been created by Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTC-E) and two versions - one right-hand drive and one left-hand drive - were engineered and built for Nissan by one of the world's leading motorsport teams, RML.

"Nissan Juke is one of the most exciting cars on the market today. Its bold crossover design has captured the imagination of car buyers all over Europe: after just a year on the market, we are celebrating sales of more than 136,282 units," said Paul Willcox, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Nissan in Europe.

"Juke lends itself perfectly to a sports derivative and JUKE-R explores that territory. Equally at home on road and track, JUKE-R showcases two of the most exciting cars in our range and highlights the technical innovation that drives Nissan. JUKE-R more than lives up to the dynamic experience we engineer into all our cars."

JUKE-R in detail

The seeds of the project were sown following a trip to the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours by Jerry Hardcastle, Nissan's Vice President, Vehicle Design and Development and Paul Wilcox, former MD of Nissan Motor GB and now Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Nissan in Europe.

Work began in earnest following Juke's appearance at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, when Nissan approached RML to "add excitement" to the recently-launched Juke. RML's Michael Mallock said: "We considered a drift car and a Baja Buggy before hitting on the JUKE-R.

"I don't know why we didn't think of it first, as it's such a logical fit. Much of the advanced technology found in the Juke was originally developed for GT-R, especially the 4WD system with torque vectoring for enhanced agility and reduced understeer when cornering."

There is one major difference between Juke and GT-R, however: the compact crossover lives up to its billing by being notably shorter than the 196mph sports car (4135mm vs 4670mm overall; wheelbase 2430mm vs 2780mm). Before the project could get underway in earnest, therefore, RML engineers needed to see whether the GT-R's sophisticated running gear would work with 250mm removed from the car's wheelbase.

A GT-R was taken to RML's headquarters in Wellingborough in the UK, where modifications began. The car's floor was cut in half and the requisite 25mm chopped out. The forward edge of the rear wheel arches were also cut away and the entire back axle moved forward. A modified propshaft and driveline for the ATTESA ET-S 4WD system were then fabricated and bolted into place, before the strange looking GT-R was taken to a secret test track for evaluation.

Experienced race driver Mallock was entrusted with the driving and came away impressed. "We were concerned that the car's software wouldn't recognise what we'd done to the car and might shut down all the systems. We were hugely relieved to discover that not only did everything work, but it worked well. Even though this was only an engineering mule, the short wheelbase GT-R drove really, really well."

With that potential stumbling block out of the way and, with a deadline only a matter of weeks away, a handful of race-honed RML engineers, fabricators and mechanics set to work to turn two standard Jukes into fire-spitting JUKE-Rs, one with left-hand drive and the other with right-hand drive. "As a motorsport operation, RML is never phased by pressing deadlines," said Mallock.

First, the standard Juke was stripped of its doors, grille and bonnet and tailgate. Then, the engine and drivetrain, suspension assemblies and interior were removed. And, with the basic shell held in place by a rig, the entire floor was cut out.

In its place came a purpose-designed separate chassis, upon which a complex full racing-style roll-cage was bolted. As well as ensuring occupant safety in the event of an accident - all the standard car's airbags and safety curtains have been removed - the cage provides mounting points for the racing five-point safety harness, as well as ensuring the shell's inherent rigidity is not just reinstated but enhanced.

"JUKE-R has an especially rigid shell, which enhances its handling and allows it to exploit the full power of the GT-R," said Chris Horton, project chief at RML.

The RML fabricators then created new pick up points for the GT-R's independent suspension assemblies, featuring a double wishbone front and multi-link set-up at the rear, as well as balancing the new propshafts and 4WD drivelines before offering up the engine and transaxle. JUKE-R also retains the GT-R's steering, Brembo brakes, fuel system including the 74-litre tank, and electronics. 

One of the most difficult aspects was fitting the V6 engine and all its ancillaries into the space previously occupied by a compact four-cylinder unit, with the engine cooling, cabin heating and ventilation assemblies causing the most head scratching.

It was a similar problem inside the car, where all the GT-R instrumentation - including the iconic G-meter screen ­- was fitted within Juke's existing dials.

"We wanted to ensure that, despite the roll cage, competition seats and the racing-style aluminium flooring, Juke-R enjoyed as many of the GT-R's creature comforts as possible. That means it has dual zone climate control and a CD player complete with an AUX-in slot for USBs and iPods," said Mallock.

It also retains GT-R's Intelligent Key and Stop/Start button, advanced electronic traction control system and the electronically-controlled three-mode settings of the suspension.

Aside from the standard GT-R wheels, the exterior is only subtly-changed from the standard car. Thanks to the GT-R's wider track - an increase of 65mm at the front and 75mm at the rear - JUKE-R features gently extended composite wheel arch blisters while there's a deeper front air dam and modified rear valance and bumper.

JUKE-R sits slightly lower than the standard car while, to aid aerodynamic efficiency, there are twin half wings at the rear, each wing extending from the outside edge of the tailgate towards the centre, with a gap in the centre. Wing aside, Juke's distinctive face and profile remains essentially the same as the standard car.

Despite the considerably shorter wheelbase, in all dynamic respects - braking, steering and handling - JUKE-R behaves in a very similar fashion to the GT-R.

Nissan and RML

Ray Mallock Ltd (RML) was founded in 1984 by race driver and motorsport engineer Ray Mallock. The company started by building and running sports prototypes in the World Sportscar Championship and first became involved with Nissan in 1990 when the team ran a works-backed R90C prototype at Le Mans. The car took pole position, led the race for five hours and claimed fastest lap before being sidelined.

Greater heights were achieved when the two companies teamed up for an assault on the ultra competitive British Touring Car Championship. Using a 2.0-litre Nissan Primera, RML claimed the Makes' and Team's titles in 1998, going one better in 1999 when driver Laurent Aïello helped RML claim all three titles - Makes, Teams and Drivers.

The victorious Primera is one of the links in the chain that's led to Juke-R. In 2003, once its racing career was over, RML used its heart to create a ‘Super Micra' to celebrate the launch of the then new city car. RML ripped out the back seats of the car and filled the space with the Primera's title-winning engine. The result, road legal of course, was the mid-engined Micra-R... hugely fast and great fun, if rather noisy in the cabin.

JUKE-R shares the same philosophy that helped create Micra-R. An adrenaline rush on wheels, it remains a technical showcase for Nissan's advanced and innovative engineering.