The Supercar-Slaying Crossover
A Welcome Surprise

I like manufacturers with a sense of humour. And when the funny surprises come from the more sedate manufacturers it makes us – the enthusiasts – stand up take notice.

Nissan fits the bill perfectly here: a mainstream yet reserved manufacturer that every once in a while produces something wild and makes us smile and forget about all the curiously-styled electric cars and toaster-on-wheels minivans they offer. Granted, they’ve pretty much had us all with the Skyline, the Silvia and the Fairlady, but in recent years – aside from the range-topping GT-R – there hasn’t been much to really wow us.


I’ve often wondered why Nissan never takes the German approach to building cars. I mean, if you are going to develop a car like the GT-R, which is powered by one of the most epic force-induced V6 engines ever made, why not drop that engine into a few more cars in your line up? I’m not talking about making slightly massaged versions with a body kit and a louder exhaust over the stock car. No, I mean making more cars like this badass Juke-R.


This really hit home after I got the chance to drive this crazy little machine… albeit for only two minutes. It was a hot lap on a makeshift track, so I did get to put this interesting creation to the so-called test. Insane doesn’t even begin to describe what 485hp and all-wheel drive feels like in a compact package like the Juke. The whole idea seems so far fetched I’m surprised it actually materialised. There are rumours that Nissan’s execs didn’t even know that Nissan Europe commissioned the RML Group in the UK to build the Juke-R – nor was anyone expecting such great feedback from the project. But I guess when you step away from the norm and do something crazy, people take notice.


Walking around the Juke-R you can’t help but approach it all with a smile on your face. It seems almost cute that they chose this platform for the project, but believe me this is one very serious piece of hardware executed with the highest level of knowhow. The approach was pretty simple – spawn a car that would embody the mechanical equivalent of a GT-R having a wild night with a compact crossover. There are many details that point to the fact that this is as far from a stock Juke – like the R35 NACA ducts on the bonnet.


The track is identical to the R35 – the GT-R’s front and rear subframes and ancillaries being transferred right over to the Juke. Obviously a lot of cutting, welding and fabricating was needed to shoehorn everything in place, mated to slightly stiffer R35 suspension set a little lower than it is in the GT-R. That’s due to the fact that the Juke is a much taller vehicle, hence requiring a little rethink on the whole roll center and overall balance of the finished car.


Along with the oily bits the R35’s Brembo brakes and 20-inch wheels were also part of the swap, as were the sticky Bridgestone Potenza tyres that help generate that impressive amount of mechanical grip that the GT-R is renowned for.


The Juke-R’s stance is brutal; the composite wheel arch extensions just managing to envelop the wider track and wheel combination.


Along with the front bumper, RML also designed and produced a whole new rear bumper which has a functional diffuser integrated into its lower section to give the Juke-R a purposeful appearance. The best touch of all has to be the exhausts though – not only for the way they exit from the corners of the bumpers, but how they are presented within carbon fiber outlets to shield the surrounding plastic front the generated heat.


According to the official specification, the Juke-R can accelerate form 0 to 60mph in 3.7 seconds and go onto a top speed of 160mph. That said, aerodynamic additions were needed at the rear to ensure enough downforce to keep the car planted at speed.


The split roof spoilers do the job rather well, but aside from that the rest of the bulky body isn’t much good at anything except developing a hell of a lot of drag. If it was a little more slippery that manufacturer claimed top speed would be a little higher. But who cares when the car is this much fun!

A Ballistic 485hp

This particular version of the Juke-R was one of the first to be built back in 2011. It was initially just a bit of technical and marketing exercise, but with Nissan getting some interest from potential customers they actually built a few more in 2013. Rumoured to have sold for US$600,000 apiece, they were powered by the more powerful version of the VR38DETT that was used in the 2013 GT-R.


The VR38 is a pretty compact engine, but when it needed to get positioned into the Juke’s somewhat small bay, some outside-of-the-box thinking was needed. As you can see here, more than half of the engine is positioned behind where the stock firewall would usually be. RML had to take the angle grinders out to cut away most of the steel bulkhead and floor, and re-fabricate everything back around the engine and driveline.


It’s one hell of an exercise in packaging and it’s quite surprising to see that they’ve managed to fit everything in there – including the stock R35 radiator overflow tank and the bulky air boxes.


The six-speed GR6 twin-clutch gearbox sits in its transaxle position right between the two rear wheels – the only real modification having been a shortened propeller shaft to fit within the reduced wheelbase.

Packaging Masterpiece

The idea was to create a true road going super-crossover and that’s why no corners were cut in the interior too. Swing open the Juke-R’s door and you are presented with a hybrid cabin that mixes up the stock Juke dashboard and transmission tunnel with R35 GT-R components and some racing mods.


This looks familiar!


One of the coolest things about the R35 is the Multi Function Display screen, which along with the car’s setup menus displays parameters and read outs from the engine and drivetrain. It’s been grafted into the top part of the center console along with the rotary dial and auxiliary buttons.


The Juke-R comes with fully functioning A/C, so again we have the R35’s controls right below the screen as well as the three toggle switches for the transmission, suspension and traction/stability control. They even incorporated the GT-R’s shift gate and lever!


The final touch is the GT-R steering wheel, which comes with those magnesium alloy shifter paddles that actuate the transmission once the main lever is moved into the manual position.


Seeing this car was built for serious track driving and for scaring anyone daring enough to jump in for a passenger ride, safety was a rather big concern. To address this RML fitted carbon fiber Sabelt seats mated to Schroth harnesses, and an FIA-specification rollcage.


Here’s a better look at those lovely carbon buckets. They’re quite a tight squeeze, but perfect when pushing the Juke-R to its limits.


As for the rear seats… well, what rear seats? That’s right – the Juke-R is strictly a two-seater, the higher floor needed to fit all those wonderful driveline components making it impossible to have the stock bench at the back. Still, aside from the various rollcage pipes criss-crossing the cabin there’s still quite a lot of accessible volume might you want to take your Juke-R for a spot of shopping.


If Nissan was a little more liberal with its product planning – more German-like if you will – we might be seeing the VR38 fitted to a variety of cars like the Fuga (Infiniti Q70), the Infiniti QX70 (the FX to you and me), or heck – even the Fairlady Z (370Z). If the Q50 Eau Rouge is anything to go by, it seems that they might be getting the point though. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would love to see Nissan come up with a worthy competitor to go up against the BMW M5, E63 AMG and the Audi RS6.

Maybe if Nissan take the plunge the Juke-R will be seen as the car that started it all? If you want to find out more about the whole development of this cute little supercar-slaying crossover Nissan have a series of videos for you to look at. Just follow the links at the end of each one to skip to the next part.


In the meantime we can only hope that more manufacturers follow suit and create more halo cars to keep us die-hard fans entertained. After all, we all know that it’s stunts like this that can make or break a brand…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Kill it with fire! The juke looks horrible and the spoiler on this one is cringe worthy, why couldn't they put the r35 bits on a navara pick up!


has anyone thought of putting the VR38DETT into a 350 or 370z. I think it would be difficult because it would have to be converted to RWD to stay true to the z car personality.


Nissan is too influenced by it's french half to do what you are talking about. It's a pity though. I once loved Nissan more than any other brand, but now I just sit around and wonder "what might have been" in regards to their lineup.


So, with the engine recessed so far back, how does one get to the spark plugs when the time comes...?


SP Engineering Built a Juke R in Dubai already......... and more extreme.


This just needs to stop. The Juke R is dumb. Like Pacha said how about the VR38DETT in a 370Z? That would be sort of cool. The Juke reminds me of a smaller Mitsubishi Montero. Just ugly.


Technical achievement?  Yes.  Hideous exterior? Yes. :(


Mr. Crivelli was kind enought to share the following build with the SH readers a few days ago.
Why dont you let Bryn shoot this? Juke R is old news.


All that work converting but couldn't do something about that front end? 
Love the idea and concept, but give it a facelift.


I kinda like it :)


Hmmm, take the awesome drivetrain and chassis out a decent looking car, and put it into something hideous...

They would be better off trying to improve the Juke itself than doing this, what a waste of money and engineering


The same thought can be applied to the auto manufacturer who places "boxer" engines in the FRONT of the car rather than their intended location at the REAR of the car.


Now put the Juke bits back in the GT-R. Now there's a car worth building...


I love the concept of insane swaps like these, hope this persusades VW to bring back the Golf GTI W12~


Those bumpers look horendous


The problem is that's too simple.


One of my all-time favorite cars.  I even like the Juke NISMO RS.


robzor Nissan is going to be putting that engine in an Infiniti 4-door...may see production.


Really cool concept and done well, but it doesn't look that great and weighs ~4000lbs. I believe this is actually heavier than a GT-R by the tiniest amount. Still plenty fast, but you'd have to be seriously wealthy to blow $600,000 on this. There are so many more cars that I'd rather have than this for that price tag. I mean a lot of cars that would be faster than this, nicer interior, more comfortable and just as unique (in my opinion).


Amused154 You have never owned a Subaru then hahaha


speedhunters_dino Amused154 Amused154  Depends on if the motor is DOHC or SOHC. From my understanding the DOHC motors are a bit of a PITA unless you have the proper tools. A lot of guys recommend cutting down an extension and using a ratchet that can disconnect from the extension since it's a bit of a tight fit. Having small hands doesn't hurt either! 

As for boxer engines in the back, older 911s aren't too bad to work on, but God the turbos are annoying to do certain tasks on. As a mechanic I prefer easy basic FR layouts. Do plugs on a Miata and then do them on a DOHC WRX flat 4 and tell me which you prefer! I was considering an SW20 MR2 before I bought my Miata, but decided against it in part due to the cramped engine bay. 

The Juke R is certainly not for the average DIY enthusiast.


This epitomizes the wretched nonsense that spews from these conglomerate OEM Manufacturers. How to make a nasty car(R35) worse in some delusionary marketing premise. Hire a race shop to make unfun, understeering pig heavier, more unstable, and possibly cute. Wake up people!!!


I'd own one. But for $600,000? No thanks.


Why all the comparisons to a stock Juke? The point of this car is that its insane and really pointless. Its a halo car to create interest and passion for the brand. 
a normal Juke is practical and sensible, not to mention reasonably priced and actually purchasable haha

My point is it seems like every article i've read on here from you lately (yes you Dino, but you're not the only one doing this) is spending the entire editorial defending the car, the cars owner, the cars mods and/or the owners taste. Its really tiring. 

Take your own advice, modify the car to what you want to do and don't let other people's strongly worded opinion over the internet change your mind.

Keep bringing us the crazy insane cars from the far reaches of Japan and Gatebil, and the US of A. I'm personally more into the oddball/grassroots/left field type stuff that made me fall in love with this site in the first place. But keep bringing them, and remember they don't need defence.

And keep bringing the stunning photos!

Maybe this would be better as a private email, but I'm curious to see if anyone else feels the same way

I'll keep on reading


Still look like poo.


Just another example of Nissan getting a little nutty..

anybody else remember that?


@Chris Calm your stuff, bro.


JasonWhatley Haha yeah I actually remember seeing that around!


teeson I don't see Dino "defending" the standard Juke. He points out the differences between the 'regular' juke and the Juke-R to emphasize the amount of work taken to achieve the build.


@Pacha short answer, no it wouldnt be hard at all.


I think you mis-understand me, I see Dino defending the Juke-R. He makes justifications for the lack of practicality, something a stock Juke has a lot of.
I suppose it's a way to write about the car that allows you to write more than just listing specs. However it's gotten really tired and seeing it done to a car that really needs no justification is what compelled me to say something.


Would much prefer a Qashqai R, the look a considerable amount better than Jukes!


Robo_No1  It must be in the UK somewhere. Needs a feature, think EVO mag even had it as their long term test car.


UWerqxTeam_MJ Don't bro me if you don't know me. I complimented the car, stated some facts, then made an opinion based remark on my thoughts on the car. If that upsets you let me know and I'll send you a big box of tissues.


AnthonyGrajo Ayaw magload :(


just got to see a juke in the flesh (saw once before, but we were moving in traffic) and that car is small. seeing how they crammed the GT-R into the juke is really a marvel.


AnthonyGrajo Gegu! Ang cute nga!:( I want!:(


Had a co-drive in one of those with Lucas Ordonez. It was fun - totally different to the GT-R.


@Chris UWerqxTeam_MJ Don't bro me if you don't know me.    ->     ha ha ha ha!


mass produce for 50 - 60 thousand and watch them fly off the shelves