The jittery ride is not unlike any hot hatch, nor is the space in the back or the customization options. If you're so worried about how much leather seats cost, you honestly don't deserve the MINI lifestyle.
The one good thing Vicky Parrott points out is that you're going to be much better off with a more powerful Cooper S with a turbo engine and front wheel drive.
The first long-term report from the same magazine suggests they are actually exaggeration about the car being expensive. The Cooper S comes in at a basic list price of GBP 22,360 which birings you rear parking sensors, DAB digital radian and a rather nice interior.