The Nissan has more that's new in the cockpit. Its HVAC buttons and screen play a secret double life. Press a D-mode switch and the A/C buttons magically change their markings so as to call up a range of sport/normal/economy settings for the steering, throttle map, transmission and air-conditioning. In this mode the HVAC screen will also toggle through turbo boost, economy graphs, trip computer and a real-time torque distribution graphic. One from the GTR playbook, this latter display, and it makes twinkly entertainment for the passengers -- if not for the driver who at moments of transient torque distribution should probably have his eyes somewhere other than on a small display screen low on the center stack.

Both of these cars bring something new to the cute-ute party: decent performance, on-road comfort, novel interiors. As a road-biased tiny crossover the Mini succeeds admirably. It's the most useful of the pair, and has a slightly greater air of premium. Trouble is, it isn't quite the car you might have imagined. It looks like a Mini, but it doesn't drive like one.

Neither does the Juke drive quite as well as Nissan hints when it references its GTR-type AWD system. But it has more of a sense of fun than the Countryman, both in its dynamics and its design. And if you want to be in a car that looks like nothing else on the road, it's definitely the one.

As impractical as it looks, but freakishly fun on the streets. The Juke is no joke, but it will still leave you giggling.

First Place: Nissan Juke
As impractical as it looks, but freakishly fun on the streets. The Juke is no joke, but it will still leave you giggling.

Second Place: Mini Countryman All4
Cuter than a Pug singing Batman, but a letdown when things get twisty. Looks like a Mini. Doesn't drive like one.


2011 Mini Countryman 2011 Nissan Juke
Base Price N/A N/A
Vehicle layout Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engines 1.6L/181-hp/177-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 1.6L/185-hp (est)/175-lb-ft (est) turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission 6-speed manual Continuously variable auto
Curb weight 3200 lb (mfr) 3200 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 102.2 in 99.6 in
Length x width x height 161.3 x 70.4 x 61.5 in 162.4 x 69.5 x 61.8 in
0-62 mph 7.9 sec (mfr est) 8.4 sec (mfr est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 26/35 mpg (MT est) 28/34 mpg (est)
CO2 emissions 0.66 lb/mile (MT est) 0.64 lb/mile (est)