Remember when Nissan proudly paraded the Juke R around the world? Of course you do—the car was a phenomenon and the car junkies loved it. We did, despite its questionable looks. But then that's the beauty of the tuning world. There's always someone prepared to go a little bit further, a little bit madder. U.K. tuner Severn Valley Motorsport (SVM) was responsible, briefly, for the world's fastest GT-R nicknamed "The Hulk" last year. Having seen the commotion Nissan's Juke R made and realizing the potential to promote his own business, SVM boss Kevan Kemp ambitiously walked into a Nissan showroom armed with a tape measure—the Qashqai R was born.
It looks like the innocent, everyday, small SUV until you peak under the hood. There lies SVM's most aggressive tuning package for the GT-R—a flex fuel setup that will take ethanol and deliver up to 1150hp, or circa 950hp on super unleaded (97 octane).
I had the rare opportunity to drive the beast and remember planting the throttle expecting fireworks. What I got was Veyron-baiting performance and the sinister roar of a twin-turbocharged V6 as all four wheels scrabbled hopelessly for grip through the first three gears.
The SVM Qashqai R hits 62mph in 2.7 seconds, 124mph in 7.5 seconds and on a casual warm-up, it stormed the quarter-mile in 9.9 seconds, hitting 144mph! Aerodynamics alone will keep it away from the company GT-R's record-setting 216mph top speed, but not by much.
SVM bored out the block to 4.1-liter and uprated the turbochargers to its own SVM Stage QR GT1150 units. These Garrett GT3071 core assemblies come with GT30 Inconnel 84mm-trim turbines (until recently, Inconnel was aerospace engineering). The block also has forged rods and pistons, crank, and just about everything else is upgraded and cooled via an anodized Radium twin breather system.
The V6 just about fits the Q, but with any swap, the biggest headaches came with the electronics. Convincing a two- door coupe to mate with a four-door SUV isn't easy; the number of doors alone sent the central locking system haywire and gave the engineers nightmares.
It took ten months to build the first SVM Quashqai R, but the end result is staggering. It's no straight-line superhero, either. Projects like this often handle like broken shopping carts, but there was a method to the madness of choosing the Qashqai. This is not a drivetrain transplant; the whole floorpan of the GT-R fits into the Qashqai's frame. In fact, there was 20cm to spare, so a slight extension to the layout was all it took. The basic layout and suspension geometry are not showroom SUV but a maxed-out GT-R.
It's safe to say the grip and cornering speeds—thanks to KW coilovers, Eibach sways and Michelin tires, as well as the stopping power from the carbon ceramic discs—go well beyond a stock GT-R.
SVM has gone to the nth degree at every turn. From the 80mm high-flow intake pipes to the perfectly finished stainless steel exhaust, from the commitment to cooling at every available point in the engine bay. Saying this is the ultimate Q car is hard to argue. All rationality about money, why SVM did this in the first place and whether the world really needs a super SUV that costs £275,000 (approximately $462K USD) goes out the window when you plant your foot. It's near Bugatti Veyron status in a crossover that normally drives to the mall.
Nissan's Qashqai is the latest niche crossover in Europe, which is obsessed with niche crossovers.
Call it a junior SUV, call it a lifestyle hatchback, call it what you want. It is, in essence, a fairly normal midrange model for normal, midrange people. There is nothing about the Qashqai that screams wild intent, because it doesn't.
The Qashqai is easy listening. It's the affordable, beige minivan of Europe, a car for people who don't care about cars.
You can have it in vanilla 1.2-liter, front-wheel drive or the full fat 1.6-liter four-wheel drive. Seriously, though, the Qashqai is not a major off-road proposition. It's a city car with a high driving position and a slight attitude, and the worst off-road obstacle it should have to tackle is a muddy field.
Of course, Severn Valley Motorsport's Qashqai is nothing like the standard car. It's a world away from picking up the kids from soccer practice, the kind of things most Qashqai owners worry about. This is SUV is for whooping ass.