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Nissan Juke-R vs GT-R

Pocket rocket meets supercar legend as we bring the Nissan Juke-R together with the GT-R

One’s a performance car legend; the other’s a family crossover on steroids. But the Nissan GT-R and Juke-R have more in common than you’d think. Bring them together and you’ve got one of the wackiest head-to-head drives of the year.
The GT-R needs no introduction – but Nissan’s policy of constant evolution means the 2012 model has more power, a stiffer body and revised suspension settings. It can’t match the dramatic looks of its little brother, though.
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The Juke-R is the fastest and wildest crossover in the world, and was created to make headlines – but having driven it in January, we already know it’s more than just a publicity stunt. So how does the ultimate Juke compare to the real deal? We put them through their paces at Bedford Autodrome.
See them side by side and you can’t help smiling, but the pumped-up Juke body works. And it’s refreshing that Nissan went ahead and shoehorned the GT-R’s mechanicals into the car – with the help of UK engineering expert Ray Mallock Ltd – rather than presenting it as a static motor show concept. The supercar’s electronic wizardry and V6 power ensure this very special Juke has the performance and handling to match its styling.
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Yet look beyond the safety cage and racing seats inside, and the car has an everyday feel – anyone who’s driven a regular Juke will instantly recognise the dash, trim and centre console. Then again, the GT-R gear selector, instrument dials and steering wheel leave you in no doubt about the car’s potential.
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Under the bonnet, the mighty V6 turbo is placed quite far back, to give decent balance, while a unique floorpan houses shortened GT-R propshafts, as well as the gearbox, wheels, brakes and modified suspension from the muscular supercar.
And once on the move it’s instantly clear this is no normal Juke. Savage acceleration off the line, lightning-fast shifts from the dual-clutch box, super-strong brakes and incredible changes of direction are the order of the day. Impressively, although the car has a higher centre of gravity, body roll is almost non-existent and the Juke hunkers down into the road just like the GT-R.
Better still, hidden beneath the beautifully sculpted arches are massive tyres that give the Juke the same physics-defying grip as its illustrious donor car. Traction is amazing, stability under braking rock solid and turn-in super sharp. The shorter wheelbase means it’s snappier when the rear lets go, but the GT-R’s clever gadgetry helps 
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you get it back into line.
Jump into the 2012 GT-R, and it has an instant advantage as its reworked 3.8-litre delivers 57bhp more than the old 485bhp engine in the Juke-R. The latest car is also 60kg lighter than the hot crossover, so acceleration is even more urgent.
As you enter corners at low speed there’s less understeer and the GT-R’s reactions are a fraction sharper. It’s more adjustable on the throttle and there’s just a little more polish to its handling – although you can clearly see how the GT-R DNA has been transferred to the Juke-R.
Despite delivering such brutal performance, both cars are easy and reassuring to drive on the road. Not that many people will be able to experience the Juke-R in everyday traffic, because only two of these very special cars have been made and they will remain firmly within Nissan’s ownership. In contrast, the latest GT-R goes on sale next month, priced at £74,450.
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For Nissan, the two-door is much more than just a flagship sports car; it’s a technological obsession. Even the slightest improvements are pursued with the kind of focus usually reserved for motorsport.
For example, the new car features stronger gearbox internals and new transmission oil, to make shifts smoother, while Nissan has strengthened the mounts between engine and bodyshell to improve rigidity, and boost refinement and handling.
It even comes with asymmetric suspension to compensate for the weight of the driver. This fanatical attention to detail shows just how seriously Nissan takes the GT-R.
The Juke-R proves it has a sense of humour, too. But that’s not to say this pocket rocket isn’t well engineered – and if Nissan ever decided to commission Ray Mallock Ltd to build a few more, they would be snapped up in minutes. After our time behind the wheel of the Juke-R, we’d be sorely tempted ourselves.
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