Micra supermini excepted, Nissan no longer makes normal hatchbacks or saloons. Instead, it has become a post-modern car company and champion of the crossover concept.

Having shown with the Qashqai that a high-riding hatchback with a hint of SUV sits right in many buyers’ comfort zones, it has now applied the formula to the next class down. The Nissan Juke is the result.

The Juke's wackiness comes from Nissan’s late-1980s special projects offshoot, the Pike Factory. It put out the Pao, S-Cargo and Figaro, all retro-looking with a modern twist.

Not that there’s anything retro about the Juke, which is a real-world version of the Qazana concept car created in Nissan’s London studio. The final version of the Qazana starred at the 2009 Geneva motor show and was nearly production ready.

A smaller, cheaper car attracts a younger buyer, and the Juke plays to that audience. Its style is more exaggerated than that of today’s mainstream cars, and it takes the notion of crossing over in a whole new direction, plundering the gene pools of SUVs, sports coupés and, in the cabin, even motorcycles.

The engine choice is simple: 1.6-litre petrol, a 1.6-litre petrol turbo or a Renault-sourced 1.5-litre diesel. Trim levels are slightly more confusing, starting with Visia, then Acenta which can be had with a Sport Pack or Premium Pack, then range-topping Tekna.

The novelty in the line-up is a four-wheel-drive model with the 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine and a CVT gearbox. It is available only in Tekna trim models, however.

Whether the mix creates a car capable of multi-disciplinary miracles, or whether each attribute is fatally compromised by every other, is open to debate, and that's what we'll explore here.

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Top 5 Compact Crossovers

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