I really don't want to start a war but I've driven a Cooper S and a JCW and unless you have, you have no idea what you're talking about.
They are two of the most tail-happy FWD cars you can ever drive. Unbelievable feel, communicative steering, great brakes and this is stock, not modified. With the JCW comes a torque biasing FD which really helps it through the corners: no one wheel peel.
The only other FWD car I've found as rewarding to drive was my fully swapped 16v 1984 GTI with suspension work donated to it from a 16v Scirocco. This car was a whopping 140 hp but right around 1900 lbs. With the Coopers at 2200 or so, it's a similar feel. There's just something about not having that extra weight to contend with.
Before you all jump down my throat: my current car is an 03 WRX wagon, stage two with mild suspension work done to it (20mm RSB, Swift/GR2, Sexy rear end kit, group N mounts for motor and suspension as well as brake mods) and when the road gets tight and twisty, I do miss my GTi. Once you get used to a shorter wheelbase/lighter weight car regardless of the drive wheels, these cars feel a bit heavy and bloated.
I will admit though, with the swampy weather we've been having here in PA: the AC has been a nice touch in the wagon (I deleted it in the GTi). The WRX isn't bad, it's just different. Like I said earlier: unless you've driven a Cooper S or a JCW you really shouldn't judge, they're pretty damn fun cars. IIRC reliability is about the same so I'd say it's a moot point.
I did regret not buying my friends JCW hardtop. I just wasn't financially solvent at the time and the interior and size are love/hate things. They are cramped inside and the gauge layout takes alot of getting used to, I personally feel they tried too hard.