The 2006 Audi A3
My friend just got an A3 2.0, front-wheel drive, with DSG. It looks sharp, accelerates smartly even full of 500 pounds of humans, and is full of great gadgetry. I have to say, the coolest feature is the computer-controlled manual transmission. It has two clutches, so gear changes are completely seamless. But there are none of the fluid resistive losses of a regular, automatic slushbox. Best of all, it has the speed racer paddle shifters, just like a Ferrari. I test drove the A3 3.2 a while back and was underwhelmed at the performance for all that money. The 2.0 eschews the heavy quattro drivetrain and uses Audi's famously-torquey 2.0 turbo to make this car feel really peppy. And, while still expensive, it's at least somewhere close to the ballpark.