A Cooper must be driven to be appreciated. Recently I started shopping around on paper for a new car in the high teen/low 20k price range. To be honest I only put the Mini on the list for the sake of having a complete list. On paper it just didn't measure up, there are others with more or similar power for less money and have similar skidpad numbers.
Then I drove one that I saw at a local used car dealership. (Owner bought it for his wife who didn't like it) The only reason I bothered to test drive it was because there is no Mini dealer nearby so I figured What the heck, I might as well see what it's like.
Since that test drive my plans have changed drastically. Before they were to save up a bit of money for a down payment on an inexpensive commuter car and keep my Camaro for a race-only car. Since the drive my plans are to sell the Camaro and use that money for a down payment on a nicely equipped Cooper S.
It's the best driving experience I've ever had, and that includes a 1999 BMW M3 I had the opportunity to drive.