In a recent issue of Motor Trend they have a great comparison/competition trying to find the best handling car in the US. They are using sensors, gauges and computers with a few different drivers on Laguna Seca to get the results. Follow the links at the bottom for all of the geekery, including video.
Mixed in with the Audi R8, Dodge Viper, Nissan GT-R and BMW M3 (among others) was a 2008 MINI Cooper S. And, considering the crowd it was running it, it did pretty well, scoring 8th overall.
>In the Mini Cooper S (8th place), again we see an adeptly tuned, midpriced front-driver. Though slowest in lane-change responsiveness and step-steer reaction time, the Mini produced a tightly grouped figure-eight tracing and finished midpack in ride quality. Pobst loved its handling balance, noting that the tail will wag helpfully but controllably in turns. “Confidence-inspiring,” was Pobst’s summation.
[ America’s Best Handling Car – Conclusion ] Motortrend.com