Within the cabin, the Countryman is very much a Mini too, with rows of endearingly eccentric but hard-to-fathom switches, and the strange layout of dials that sees the speedometer parked way out of your sightline -- it practically forces you to glance instead at a digital supplementary readout set into the tach. The Mini's driving position is as always excellent, placing your feet straight ahead and your shoulders perpendicular. But it's higher, though by no means SUV height. Just high enough to make a real difference if the lowness of a normal Mini causes you to be intimidated by passing trucks.

And of course the Countryman has proper rear seats, comfortable for adults, and definitely larger than the oddball Mini Clubman's pillion. If occupied by kids the seats slide forward to boost space in the trunk. Four individual seats are standard, separated by a rail running the length of the passenger space that carries various clip-in slide-along brackets to hold the necessities of travel -- phones, MP3 players, cups, and shades.

Another innovation is the optional Mini Connected, which consists of an app for your iPhone which, when docked, will put Google local searches and even your Twitter and news feeds straight onto the main navigation screen, or read them out via voice synthesis.

Nor is the Nissan shy of interior innovation. If the Mini's center console was inspired by a utility belt, the Juke's is molded and painted like a motorcycle tank. Gimmicky maybe, but kinda cute while no other car has the same idea. And it does no harm: the normal compliment of cupholders and ashtrays finds a home. In the rear of the cabin, headroom is a problem, and in this all-wheel-drive version, the trunk is almost comically small. As a piece of packaging -- indeed as an overall vehicle concept -- it might help to think of the Juke as a subminiaturized BMW X6.