2009 MINI Cooper Clubman 3dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
We bought a 2009 Clubman because it was fun to drive, different, and got good gas mileage. We put the car on the road for a 2500- mile summer road trip; performance was great and mileage was *fantastic* (~41MPG on the highway), but we found that the passenger-side carpets were wet. We had to diagnose the problem via the MINI discussion boards on the internet, and traced it to a poorly installed gasket in the A/C system. Other problems included rear-door seals that didn't seal, an inaccurate speedometer, and shut-downs due to bad throttle assemblies. After ~5 repair trips in 12,000 miles, the dealer replaced the car, so we now own a 2010 - with a gas gauge that doesn't really work.
Fun to drive; sporty; unique; pretty useful size for a family of 3.
Reliability and engineering: in a $20,000 car, inaccurate gauges and poor assembly quality aren't acceptable. I've had fewer problems with my 1996 Ford Ranger pickup. Next time I'll buy the Honda.