Motor Trend test drove the new Volvo C30, Vw GTI and 2007 MINI Cooper S back to back to back and came away with an interesting result. But first, here’s what they said about the MINI:

>Quirks aside, the Mini S rewards those who love driving. Sure, it’s the slowest of the group, but its 6.4-second 0-50-60 mph time and 15-second quarter mile are impressive given the significant displacement advantages of the other two (1.6-liter versus 2.0 versus 2.5). Ironic, too, that the Mini feels like the quickest of the bunch. Credit Cooper S’s tiny, quick-spooling turbocharger. Yup, the S no longer stands for supercharged, which is a welcome change. Says Kiino, “The old supercharges motor was too whiny and crude for my tastes. This new turbo engine doesn’t suffer from much lag and revs freely and in a refined manner.”

>The fusion of the spunky engine with a quick-shifting Getrag six-speed in a chassis that boasts the shortest wheelbase and quickest steering means the Cooper S is easily the most fun for squirting in and out of the canyon. Too bad this combo works against the Mini nearly everywhere else. “It seems the Mini is now biased too much toward the track,” notes Harwood, “and suspension beats you up on the freeway.” Editor Kiino also found the handling unpredictable, but adds that , “It’s the only one here that can turn a run to the market into a rally stage.”

So how did the MINI fare against it’s rivals? Due to what Motor Trend (a magazine squarely aimed at the middle ground mind you) called “small-car sacrifices”, it came second to the GTI. And the new Volvo? Dead last.

[ Comparison: 2007 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2007 Mini Cooper vs. 2008 Volvo C30 ] Motor Trend