Since we're talking about what we cross-shopped, I actually had it between a Jetta, Cooper S, and the 1er. The Jetta would've been the most practical, but VW just didn't have the long-term reliability I wanted, and as for customer service, someone on TDIClub put it best: when you get a VW, you're buying a brand-new car without a warranty. I was also disappointed that the TDI trim didn't come with a sport suspension option, and neither it nor the GLI trim had dual-zone climate control.
From a back-to-back test-drive shootout between the two (45 mins each, no salesman,) I actually liked driving
the Cooper S slightly more than the 1er, just because it felt like a much more involving drive on a day-to-day basis, and better fuel economy, and as I had no plans to track the car, those were more important to me. However, I could not get past the retro styling, and knew the risk of me growing to hate the car's quirky design was just too great. (I got a little annoyed on the test drive at the speedometer placement.)
Then when the chance for a European Delivery presented itself this spring...well, the rest was history.