You’ve seen them scooting around town, but you’ve never quite gotten it. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself, “why would someone want to drive such a tiny little car?”

Until I drove my first MINI a year ago, I never fully understood.

Sure, I’d heard that they’re wickedly fun to drive, that they handle like go-karts, and are quite fuel-efficient. But having not actually driven one, I didn’t get it.

Despite its diminutive appearance, the MINI is not a clown car.

Jimi Hendrix’ timeless question, “Are You Experienced?” fully applies to the MINI. You have to drive one to understand.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had the good fortune to have test driven (and reviewed) three MINIs: a Euro-only MINI D (clean diesel), a MINI Clubman (the stretch version), and earlier this month, the latest MINI S Convertible.

I get it.

It’s about the joy of driving, of fantastic handling, of fitting into the tiniest parking spaces, of getting more out of a tank of gas then you ever though possible in a conventional car.

For those pluses, there are minuses: a limited amount of passenger and cargo space, along with a pricetag that’s significantly higher than then the competition (although some may say that there currently is no competition for the MINI here in America).