It’s marginally cheaper than the Clio RS 200 and Peugeot 208 GTI, and considerably more affordable than the Audi S1. The Fiesta ST remains the best value, although it’s worth noting that the higher-spec ST-2 is only slightly less than the Cooper S and will probably depreciate more.
In terms of running costs, there’s little to choose between any of them. Mini quotes 49.6mpg combined for the Cooper S (we managed 53.7mpg on a cruise and 34.9mpg overall). Considered alongside its 133g/km CO2 emissions, that might make it the class leader, but the difference is so slender that it’s unlikely to sway would-be buyers one way or the other.
Comparative equipment levels ought to be more persuasive. The Cooper S covers the basics (air-con, Bluetooth, DAB, sports seats) but, typically, its options list is long and distinguished by items that really ought to be standard.
Most shoppers in this segment, for example, will baulk at the idea of owning a quick supermini with 16-inch wheels and rightly grumble at the prospect of parting with £450 to make them grow by an inch.