Winding Road is currently running a story about small, fun rides that offer driving excitement to rival larger, more expensive sports cars. They’re taking their “Involvement Index” and pulling out the fun cars that are actually affordable. Ranked at #2 is MINI’s new Coupe. They like it. They like it a lot.

Mini Cooper S Coupe: Involvement Score 78, Starting Price $25,300. So good we ended up booking a year-long loan in one. The Cooper S Coupe is the ultimate sub-$30,000 performer for the Mini brand, and goes toe-to-toe on our Index with Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG and V-6-powered Porsche Panamera. It’s go-kart-like driving dynamics and zippy turbo make this two-seater an affordable Involvement alternative.

We’ve said from the get-go that the MINI Coupe has a unique driving dynamic that can only truly be appreciated from behind the wheel. If you think it’s just a re-roofed convertible without its back seats, you’re missing the real appeal of this car. The compromises made to make the MINI Coupe what it is are precisely the kinds of things that ought to land it on anybody’s Involvement Index. Short of the GP, the Coupe is the most performance-oriented model in the MINI lineup. That’s our POV, but we’ll keep in eye out for Winding Road‘s long-term review as well.

[Source: Winding Road]

Big thanks to Jason for sending this in.