Edmunds Inside Line pits their long term test R56 against a brand new Volvo C30. The results are surprising.

>Now there’s another premium hatchback playing the same game – the 2008 Volvo C30. Like the Mini, it has retro styling to get your attention and all the latest features, but underneath the throwback bodywork is an S40 sedan without the rear doors. It’s bigger than the Mini, so the C30 is a more practical package, but it has enough power to make it quick.

>There is one small problem, though, because the spreadsheet keeps spitting out the same two numbers. Yes, after all the track-testing, road-tripping, errand-running, feature-counting and cost-comparing, the Mini and the C30 land in a virtual dead heat – 79.1 percent to 79.2 percent, a tie in our book. Here’s why.

Yes, you read that correctly. A tie. Or pretty close to it.

>Neither of these hatchbacks enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to braking or handling. The Mini is slightly better on the brakes with a solid pedal feel and a 115-foot stop from 60 mph. The Volvo isn’t far behind with a 117-foot stop, but its soft pedal makes the distance feel longer.

>Through the slalom, the Mini has everything going for it: a smaller size, quicker steering, upgraded 17-inch wheels with 205/45R17 Dunlop SP Sport tires plus the optional sport suspension. It comes through with a blistering 68.5-mph run, a fast speed for any car in any class.

They go on to say that if you are looking for something that is a bit more compliant for everyday driving duties, get the Volvo. But the MINI is still the car for the enthusiast.

[ Comparison Test: ’07 MINI vs. . 2008 Volvo C30 ] Edmunds.com