Here was my shortlist before I bought my 328:
VW Passat - Coming from a GLI and it being a generally fun and reliable car, I initially wanted to stay loyal to VW. But after months of trying to convince myself that the Passat not less exciting than watching paint dry, I moved on.
Acura TL SH-AWD - Nice car and has Honda reliability. Big issue for me was that a model change is imminent and I kinda wanted a car model that wouldn't be last years body. Was only considering the SH-AWD, because I convinced myself I wasn't going to drive a FWD again...even the though the SH-AWD is front biased.
Audi A4 Quattro - When the current model first came out, I thought the styling was great...not polarizing in anyway but still somewhat aggressive. After seeing them on the road for 4+ years, the styling seem bland to me now. Plus, it wasn't that much bigger than my GLI and had the same engine. Plus, the quattro would've sucked any performance out of that 2.0L motor.
Volvo S60 T6 AWD - This one was the main competition with the F30. From the C-pillar forward I love the styling of the car and the interior is one of the best I've been in. Deceptively, it had tons of room in the front and back. That Turbo I-6 was also stunning and the amount of features you get for the money was great. Warranty is class leading. It's the rear end of the car that gave me trouble. First of all, it's raked like an old Mopar Duster. The ass-end sticks up so high you could be excused for thinking it had frame connectors installed. That car would need a set of springs as soon as I would drive it off the lot...and better wheels too. The rear end also looks like they chopped it off 2" too short. If they gave it a little more length it might lessen the appearance of it riding so high in the back.
F30 328i - Put off driving this until last, because deep in my gut I knew this would be it. All the other cars (except for the Audi) I drove at least twice. I was initially underwhelmed with the power of the N20 but it really is deceptively quick. Aside from the minor steering wheel vibration I couldn't be happier. Power is great, chassis is perfect, interior is miles above what I saw in the E90.
2012 328i Sportline - Black Sapphire Metallic - 8AT Sport
I pronounce it "Beemer" and turn my fog lights on even when it's not foggy.