Niche, as the saying goes, is the new mainstream, as much in motoring as in food or fashion. And no niche has had as much recent success as the high hatch, laterally known as the small SUV, the miniature MPV, the shrunken estate, the beefed up broodvantjie. The new breed has been raised from mere hatch servitude with all the fanfare of a working class grunt winning the Lotto. Of the long and growing list we selected three players to best represent the breadth of choice now available Opel’s butch-ish top of the line 1.4T Mokka Cosmo, more SUV than MPV, Nissan’s rainforest frog Juke 1.2T Acenta, for style over space, and, Kia’s Squarebob hipster pioneer, the cavernous Soul 1.6 Start. Both Soul and Juke were base models. All offer different approaches to extra space and ability, yet all are chasing the same demanding urban market. To test their mettle we chose a routing through the Koue Bokkeveld that included switchback mountain passes, Scottish Highland-like sweeping straights and the snaking dirt descent down Middelburg Pass to Citrusdal. The new segment has dirt road pretentions and we figured we’d try them out on the rough stuff as well as the blacktop.