First Drive: Nissan Juke-R 2.0

First drive: Nissan Juke-R

It's not often manufacturers spoil us with a one-off treat but, when they do, it's usually worth the wait. Take this Nissan Juke, for example. This isn't just a spruced up Crossover with larger bumpers and a shouty exhaust; this is what happens when you cross a Juke with a GT-R; allow us to present the Juke-R.

What is it?

You may remember Nissan unveiling the first example of its Juke-R back in 2012. Engineered and pieced together by British race team RML, the Juke-R is possibly one of the most radical machines you'll find on the market. Although, you will need £400,000 to get one custom built.

So what's changed since 2012, you ask. Well, since the Juke was given a facelift in 2014, receiving new glitzy LED headlights, a restyled front grille and a larger boot, the RML crew got their hands on the foundations of the latest Juke, and began building the next generation R model: the 2.0. The key thing you need to know about the Juke-R is that this highly-tuned variant of a chirpy family SUV is powered by a remapped version of the aggressive V6 you'll find under the hood of the 2012 GT-R.

What's under the bonnet?

Under its carbon fibre hood, you'll find a 3.8-litre V6 twin-turbo. This is quite a shock to the system when you're looking into an engine compartment in which a modest 1.5-litre diesel would usually sit. The fact that this unit pumps out 600bhp, means the Juke-R 2.0 is insanely quick off the mark. To put that in perspective, this piece of kit will sprint from 0-62mph in just three measly seconds; you don't even have time to blink.

Its rapid launch capabilities are mostly down to its impressive four-wheel-drive system, alongside its clever ECU, overseeing every rev, every squeeze of the accelerator and every twitch of the steering wheel. This means that, even in wet conditions around a race circuit like Silverstone, the Juke-R is one of the most forgiving and most capable cars you can trust in.

First drive: Nissan Juke-R 2.0

First drive: Nissan Juke-R 2.0

What's the spec like?

Well, let's just say it's like stepping behind the wheel of a race car, which has a slightly higher centre of gravity and (slightly) comfier seats. To get into the driver's seat, you'll first have to step over the roll-cage before buckling up into full-face buckets with a four-point harness. You won't forget you're in a Juke, since its interior layout remains uncannily similar and you're presented with a dash that resembles Juke-like functionalities, only with GT-R displays. The paddle-shifts are also taken straight from the GT-R. Just as a heads-up, we wouldn't recommend buckling up before closing the door, since this makes it impossible to reach it.

Like its more reserved sibling, the Juke-R features a revised rear and front-end, equipped with the same LED headlights found on the standard model, only with bumpers made solely from carbon fibre. The bumpers in question have 100 per cent larger air intakes, to help keep that spooling V6 cool. Keeping the design language relatively similar, the Juke-R 2.0's bodywork has also been streamlined, meaning it looks better and scores higher points for aerodynamic performance. It also sits on the latest GT-R alloys, giving a dramatically bold stance.

Any rivals?

In a word: no. The Juke-R has always been one-of-a kind and is like no other vehicle you'll find on the road – no matter how big their exhausts and body kits get. This car is quite frankly the closest you'll get to driving a race car on the road and, while that's quite sad news for us drivers, that's the beauty of it.

What's it like to drive?

When you're strapped in and ready for the off, there's no doubting that you instantly feel like a racing driver. Due to the build of the Juke, you do sit noticeably higher than you would if you were at the wheel of the GT-R, giving you more of a birds-eye view of the road; so if you're on track, missing those apexes is out of the question. Driving a beast of a machine that weighs 1806kg and can hit the national speed limit faster than you can turn your head doesn't leave too much to the imagination.

What's most impressive is its ability to correct and encourage its driver through even the trickiest of corners – it's almost impossible to lose control and is sure to make anyone feel like a driving God. This is certainly good news since, as you shift up through the six gears so quickly you'd think you've run out, you have to really work those brakes when you're knocking back down to shed all the speed you've gained along the straight.

But at the back of your mind, you have to remember this is a Juke. Due to its bulkier body and larger wheelbase, it does suffer from body roll through the corners and it's quite as agile as the GT-R. That said, it's not afraid to pounce on corners and, if you've got too much steering lock on or you're too heavy on the brakes, it will bite back; the Juke-R is a responsive car that needs to be worked, so it requires deep concentration.

The AOL Cars verdict

You always expect the second version of something that you think can't get any better, to miserably disappoint. However, it's safe to say the Juke-R 2.0 does not follow this tradition. The fact that you can place an order for your very own 2.0 and it'll be crafted and delivered to you on a first come first serve basis, makes this an extremely rare and special car. It will set you back £406,000, and we're pretty sure you'll get pulled over no-end by the police, but it would be absolutely worth it. If you do buy one, RML will also teach you how to drive it, ensuring you get the very best from its race-prepared chassis. The Juke-R will always be a Juke under the skin, but what the boys at RML have managed to achieve is nothing short of genius, and absolutely insane; that's why we love it.

The knowledge

Model: Nissan Juke-R 2.0
Price: £406,000
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6
Power: 600bhp, 652Nm
Top Speed: 165mph
0-62mph: 3 seconds
Fuel economy: N/A
Emissions: N/A