Copied from a previous post of mine:
Audi A4. Nice interior. Nice low-end grunt but acceleration falls off at higher revs. Steering is too light and the chassis does show its weight at times. The AWD worked well from what we could tell on dry pavement. Our first intro to ZF's 8-speed and we were impressed.
Lexus IS250 and IS350. The 250 was too sluggish, and while the 350 had plenty of power the standard slushbox shifted way too slow. Slightly dated feeling interior due to the wood trim they used. Neither could come with folding seats, and the 350 was fairly expensive since NAV although officially an option was effectively mandatory.
Volvo S60 T6. Plenty of power, good options, AWD wasn't too FWD like, but slow shifting slushbox again. One of our favorite interiors - it was cockpit like and reminded us of our S2000s.
Volkswagen GTI. Loved the dual-clutch gearbox and light feeling to the handling, but after driving it I realized I couldn't deal with FWD again. (The car previous to the S2000 was an Integra GSR.)
Subaru Legacy. Floaty-boat suspension. Bleh.
Kia Optima Turbo. We never knew about this car until we saw it at the autoshow, loved the way it looked inside and out, and realized it included a TON of features for very little money. Then when we learned it had 270 hp we needed to take it for a test drive. What a letdown. It seriously felt like it only had 200 hp, and handled badly (ie, FWD understeer) to boot. Plus the dealership experience left a lot to be desired.
2011 328i. This was our first drive in a BMW, and we had high hopes from all the Ultimate Driving Machine hype we'd heard. Man, what another letdown. The interior felt like cheap plastic, the engine had no balls, the auto slushbox was sluggish, and the steering and handling weren't anything special. (I don't recall which all options it had, although I'm pretty sure it didn't have sport or Msport or whatever.) I've been quite surprised at the number of comments I've heard about BMW "softening" the 3 series with the F30 model. In my experience (ie, just a test drive of each) it's been quite the opposite.
Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Great handling, nice engine, great dual-clutch transmission, decent interior and exterior, and low price... It would have been a winner except when reading online I heard lots of folks getting only high teens or low twenties at best for gas mileage. To compare, my S2000, despite its EPA rating, gets 27.5 mpg tank after tank with my current commute. For my driving, that mileage would add up costs quickly.
There were various cars we couldn't get interested in to test drive: Accord - way to frickin' big. Civic - FWD bleh. G37 and Merc C - didn't like the looks inside and out. CTS - too big and too expensive and blah interior.