The new Nissan Juke SUV will catch the eye of city dwellers, but under its funky exterior and bug-eye lights it’s really a jacked-up runabout.

The new Nissan Juke SUV proves that in an ultra-competitive business cars just don’t have to follow convention any more.

To win sales, makers have to search for trends and niches and so the jauntily-named Juke looks like nothing else, except maybe a bug on steroids.

It’s called a Sports Utility Vehicle and one of the three models available actually has all-wheel drive, but under its funky exterior and bug-eye lights it’s really a jacked-up runabout that should catch the eyes of young city dwellers.

Just as we were writing elsewhere in this Best Car Buys edition about the $21,990 Peugeot 2008 arriving as the mini-SUV showroom price leader, along comes the base ST Juke at the same price.

Most of the cars’ features are similar but the Juke’s 1.6 litre, four-cylinder petrol engine out-guns the Peugeot’s 1.2 three-cylinder for power and street cred.

The ST’s 1.6 offers an adequate 86 kiloWatts of power. It’s easy to expect the ST will be the Juke’s biggest seller, because it’s a big $6400 step up to the ST-S and for a car that appeals more to performance drivers.

The ST-S gets the 140 kW turbo engine from the sporty Pulsar SSS hatchback, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. That makes one hot little SUV and plenty of fun.

Navigation, automatic headlights and wipers, push-button ignition and a reversing camera come standard, too.

There’s more kit again in the $32,190 Juke Ti-S, but the biggest enhancements are underneath in the form of all-wheel drive and a completely different, multi-link independent rear suspension.

The AWD is clever, automatically directing power between the front and rear wheels and the left and right sides according to the amount of tyre grip determined by electronic sensors. It isn’t difficult to imagine how this enhances safety in wet on-road conditions or when scrambling along an off-road track.

The Juke is built in the UK, where it has been on sale since 2010. It has taken local bosses a while to make the case to import it, but the timing is right for something funky from a company better known for conservatism.

It sets the scene for big changes over coming weeks and months, when we will see the Altima and Pulsar SSS sedans, new Pathfinder, Dualis and X-Trail SUVs and even a hybrid.