The radical Nissan Juke-R that promises supercar-baiting performance in a subcompact crossover body will be available to Canadians who order one, Nissan Canada confirmed this week. But as it's a made-to-order mash-up of a GT-R's engine in a Juke body, don't expect to see one on a dealer's lot.
Nissan said that at least three Juke-R models would be produced this summer, for buyers who have already placed "three firm orders" for the car, and will receive them by the end of the summer. Other potential buyers will have about four weeks (to the end of May or so) to place their orders, said Didier Marsaud, Nissan Canada's senior director of communications.
The company hasn't released a price yet for the Juke-R, which uses the 2012 GT-R's 3.8-litre turbocharged engine to produce a scalding 545 hp, though it's safe to say that it will be more than the GT-R's $109,000 Canadian base price.
The Juke-R was designed as a skunk works project by Nissan's U.K. team last year as a potential concept to marry two of Nissan's most distinctly sporting models. The British team reportedly took some heat from Nissan HQ in Japan about not keeping head office abreast of the after-hours, unofficial performance project until close to, or perhaps soon after, its unveiling. Once the Juke-R went public, it received a landslide of publicity, smack dab in the middle of Nissan's efforts to launch the planet-friendly Leaf EV around the world.
The original Juke-R was built using the engine of the 2010 GT-R, producing 480 hp in the two "Franken-issans" versions created, one with the steering wheel on the left, the other on the right. Dropping larger engines into smaller bodies is a time-honoured muscle-car tradition, but it's something that is unusual in these fuel-conscious times, even more so in small SUVs, and practically unheard of when talking 500-hp-plus powerplants, of which there are still relatively few in the business.
A more production-ready Juke-R appeared at the Dubai motor show in January, where the majority of those three early orders came from. The upscale International Marina Club in Dubai was also the setting for a blockbuster-like online video production Nissan released recently, pitting the Juke-R against three $200,000-plus exotics, the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The full video was released on the Nissan Juke's official Facebook page last week, to coincide with the production announcement.
"This is not a new product in the Nissan range, it will never hit showrooms anywhere," emphasized Marsaud. It is meant for "serious collectors and investors" and will only be built in tiny numbers.
Those interested are advised to contact Nissan U.K. directly, not their local dealer, at Juke-R@Nissan.co.uk. Further Juke-R production or timing hasn't been confirmed yet, but it will take about 15 weeks to produce a unit, Nissan estimates.
AJAC EcoRun this week
A new car rally of 23 fuel-saving vehicles runs Tuesday to Thursday this week, organized by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada to compare and highlight all the different new technologies available that help consumers save money at the pump – or avoid gas pumps altogether.
Vehicles will include plug-in cars – both with an engine, and battery-only examples – gas-electric hybrids (with no plugs), diesel vehicles and conventionally-powered gas engines with a variety of fuel-saving features.
The field will include all the new sub-100 grand EVs and plug-in cars now on the Canadian market, as well as a few yet to arrive officially in Canada. The latter includes the Ford Focus EV, the Toyota Prius plug-in, and the Smart fortwo Electric Drive. The Smart unfortunately won't be the third-generation Smart EV set to arrive in dealers this fall, but the gen-two version, with half the power and a more limited range, but it'll still provide a taste of what's to come.
The current stars of the plug-in market will all be there: the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Chevrolet Volt, plus a bevy of hybrid vehicles that includes sporty ones from Honda (CR-Z), Lexus (CT 200h) and Porsche (Panamera S Hybrid), full-hybrid family sedans from Toyota, Kia and Hyundai, plus mild hybrids such as the Buick Regal eAssist.
The full list of vehicles to be tested can be found on AJAC's website at ajac.ca, where a new EcoRun section includes live updates and information about the event. Each vehicle will be driven over the same route over three days, with AJAC members trying to limit their fuel use as much as possible. The amount and cost of fuel used – whether gas, diesel, or electrons – will be monitored and then compared, as will the comforts and conveniences provided by each fuel-saving alternative.
Starting on Tuesday in Brighton, about two hours east of Toronto, the caravan was to make stops in Oshawa, at the University of Ontario's Institute of Technology, then in Toronto on Wednesday at Centennial College's auto tech-producing Ashtonbee campus, and then the Evergreen Brick Works (named one of the world's top 10 geo-tourism sites by National Geographic in 2010). From there, it was on to Hamilton's McMaster University and its soon-to-open $26-million green car research facility, finishing up Thursday afternoon in London's Fanshawe College.
The mayors of both Brighton and London are set to help open and close the event, with members of the public and other media invited to each stop and press conferences along the way.
The hope is to pass along some fuel-saving tips that drivers can use in their own cars, as well as to start thinking about ways to further lower their fuel consumption down the road when it comes time to look at some new wheels. As a participant AJAC driver, I'll have a look at how the event went, how the cars compared, and any conclusions coming out of it in a future GlobeDrive article.
Porsche offers special Boxster drive
Porsche Canada will start up a new Travel Club in June, its first offering an organized two-day drive of the new Boxster on Vancouver Island at the end of the month, days before the Boxster officially goes on sale here.
The company plans to take six new Boxsters along some of the finest roads in the country, starting from Victoria and then heading to Tofino. The second day is the trip back in the opposite direction, 330 km each way, before a final night's stay in Victoria.
As is also the case with Porsche Canada's Camp4 winter driving school, this program's steep $3,450 cost doesn't include the cost of transportation to Victoria and back home. But it covers everything else: accommodations, meals, fuel and of course the Boxster "rental," allowing potential owners to spring for a pricey but memorable test drive.