GT-R NISMO the prelude to a more significant drive, but such is the case at Silverstone. How better to get your eye in? The R35 NISMO is truly devastating actually, with the ability to make the Stowe circuit feel like autocross. Stability, acceleration and grip are on another plane even compared with the frenzied standard car, making it just savage on a track. It feels on a relentless mission to simply consume asphalt but there's subtlety too; the brakes have great feel and progression and it's often forgotten just how sorted GT-R electric steering is.
A good appetiser for the Juke R two point zero then. 'Clamber' is a often a daft verb used to describe very easy car entry, but the Juke really is a challenge. Over the cage - mind your head - down into the seat but off the harnesses and watch your knee on the GT-R dash; now if I could just move the seat... Oh. That's as far as it goes. Which is about six inches not far enough. Knees around ears it is then!
The Juke's interior is in fact a great pointer as to the driving experience; part GT-R, part Juke, part racing car. Just with an appalling driving position. Moving out of the pits it feels like a 600hp fist punch - much how it looks then - with the GT-R graunches and whines amplified by the expanse of space behind the seats. It squeaks and rattles a bit too, a reminder of the huge engineering work that must have gone in. They are not unnerving, instead rather endearing, like the GT-R underneath is itching to be set free from this outrageous costume.
It certainly feels like a GT-R down the main straight. Holy hell is it fast. Terrifically, insatiably, addictively fast. Both the Juke and the NISMO are on the brink of fifth gear, so about 120mph or so, at the fastest point of the circuit and they feel pretty evenly matched. Which is a fairly ludicrous thing to write. I'd wager the NISMO is slightly more accelerative but it makes something like a C63 AMG feel a bit undernourished. There's still some lag too, making that onslaught of boost all the more thrilling.
Obviously the Juke feels less like a GT-R through corners, but it's capable of incredible things. Despite the bucket and harnesses you feel perched high and certainly the weight doesn't feel as low. Where the NISMO scythes through the first chicane the Juke feels more precarious, up on its toes and teetering on the edge. Not dangerous, but certainly without the devastating corner speed. To be expected really.
With Bridgestone Potenzas rather than the NISMO's Dunlop Sport Maxx GTs the Juke doesn't quite have the fierce turn-in of that car but things become a lot more familiar from the apex onwards. It seems to take chomps out of the tarmac, devouring the circuit and throwing the exit at you way sooner than expected. The black 600hp car feels more prone to understeer than the 600hp white one, but the way it exits corners remains extraordinary.
Where the Juke in fact feels most different is under brakes. The NISMO is phenomenal, increasing composure over the standard R35 for absolute confidence. The Juke is, well, edgier, but rather exciting because of it. With R-Mode selected on all three buttons - no turning things off understandably - and just holding the brakes into a bend the little Juke dives in for an apex and the rear begins its own, slightly wider arc... just as it feels about time to nail the throttle towards the exit the stability control kicks in. But it's a wonderful feeling up to that point. Agile and flighty while not entirely terrifying, it's really unlike anything else.
For Nissan the Juke R is meant to draw focus and people to the the standard Juke; it can be both a 1.5 DCi and a 600hp V6 freak. A bit like the way Mila Kunis can be both Meg Griffin and the Black Swan, right? Both ends of the scale... Perhaps the bigger issue is whether Nissan actually need any help at all shifting Jukes but that's not really for here. Instead we need to celebrate its existence and applaud Nissan for pursuing a project that's completely daft but utterly absorbing and brilliant at the same time. It seems like a spiritual successor to the bonkers Micra 350SR of the early 2000s, and that's meant as compliment. The world didn't need either the Micra or this Juke, but it's a much more enjoyable and interesting place thanks to both of them.
NISSAN JUKE-R 2.0
Engine: 3,799cc V6, twin-turbo
Power (hp): 600@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 481@N/Arpm
0-62mph: 3.7 sec (original Juke-R)
Top speed: 160mph (original Juke-R)
MPG: Probably not many
CO2: Probably very many
Price: Maybe if you give RML enough. And a GT-R