Whooooaaaaahhhh there Silver! I test drove an A4 1.8t a while back (when the new shape/model came out), and by God it was dreadful! The engine was wheezy and ran out of puff at about 2.1 rpm.
Urk..... no...... must....get ....away....
I know I'm going to get flamed into the ground for this one - but if it's excitement you're after, try a 9-5 Aero.... just don't tell anyone I told you!
(or better - get a TVR )
In truth you clearly have the same problem that I do - keen driving spirit, and feeling let down by virtually everything on the market -
Too refined to be fun - Jag
Too clinical - Audi/Merc
Too expensive - Aston / Lambo / Pagani
Too dreadful - Daewoo
I think it's really down to what you want to spend and what you want/need to get out of it. The 9-3SS is a cracking little car, well specced, well built, relatively quick compared to the competition (but not to anything serious like your AMG) and a tidy little handler. Unfortunately in this day and age, every sensation seems to be getting dialed out of a car in the name of "drivability" - IE, so any beggar can turn corners. Gone is the day when a car was rated for being "a challenge" to drive.
Personally it was the latter I have always been seeking, thus I wasn't put off early Saabs because of "deadly torque steer" - the 9-3 Viggen was one of the most entertaining cars I've driven, why? Because you had to drive it - you couldn't just sit back and let it go.
Now obviously I've just jumped to the worst case scenario with TVR - try and drive a non power-assisted TVR with one hand..... and clean trousers. But I love it to death, and every single drive leaves me grinning from ear to ear, and most drives end up twice or three times as long, just because I can't help myself!
So cat among the pidgeons time - here are some mad suggestions - you didn't say what you needed the car to do for you, so some will be inappropriate.... but give it a go.
Saab 9-3 Aero - new or 2nd, 230 or 250bhp, plenty of kit, cruise forever, and still make you grin on the twisties. Group 17, but deemed low-risk by most insurers.
Saab 9-3 Viggen - as above but with added dose of nuttiness! Hard to find, but getting cheap 2nd hand. Group 17, bit more risk but not much. Good ole hatchback Saab.
Seat Leon Cupra-R - left field choice, a bit boy-racer in some colours, but fun to drive, while the ride is a bit bobbly. Cabin 80s Audi-style black dullness.
Lotus Elise - plenty of them about, not "fast" fast, but cracking handling shopping trolleys - except you won't fit any shopping in them! Getting cheaper to insure now they're proven.
MG Rover ZT - the biggy based on the 75, tidy handling, painful fuel economy, but again getting cheap to insure.
Jaguar S-type Sport - 3.0V6/4.0V8 facelift model - luxury with a dose of spice - IMHO the best car Jag currently produce. DON'T get swayed into the now dirt cheap earlier version!
Jaguar X-type Sport - again, avoid the SE, and expect a few cheaper looking bits, but the 3.0V6 Sport is neat, quick and still looks Jag-ish, even if it is a Mondeo in drag!
I really must stop wittering and go and do some work, hope that helps out a bit - personally, despite all the extras in that list, I'd still go for one of the Saabs - which one is down to budget and needs....
Hope that helps once again.