Greetings all,<p>I'm currently shopping for a possible replacement for my '94 SAAB 900S, and the V50 T5 is one candidate.<p>I test drove a V50 T5 FWD M6 with the Sport package and was pretty impressed. My other favorite is the Audi A3, but the V50 has enough room to carry my dog and her 36" crate - a problem with the A3. The V50 has about the best front seats around, and the shift mechanism was miles better than my SAAB (or the SportCombi, for that matter).<p>Although the handling was impressive, most of the reviews are fairly critical of the V50's "harsh" ride, even without the sport package. I deliberately chose a test drive that included a stretch of interstate with nasty expansion joints, and found the response firm but well damped. It did seem fairly "active", though, which makes me wonder if it would be less amusing on a four hour interstate drive in New England, or dealing with the potholes and manhole covers of my city commute.<p>So, two questions:<p> - How do folks with the Sport package like their choice after the new car thrill wears off?<p>- Is the ride/handling compromise of the AWD version much different ? (the reviewers seem confused about this - most seem to think that the AWD includes the Sport package suspension)<p>My 900S isn't exactly known for a pillowy ride, and I owned an (original) GTI, so I tend to value crisp handling, but I'd prefer not to have my teeth shaken out (something my GF's Impreza Sport seems likely to accomplish).<p>I've been told that M6 FWD V50s are rare as hen's teeth, and that the only '07 with the M6 will be the AWD version. It seems impossible to find a FWD M6 without the Sport Package, but with DSTC.<p>The other candidates are:<p>- Audi A3 2.0 - great handling, interior, love that 2.0 FSI and the DSG, cargo space probably too small<p>- CPO A4 Avant (2003 or 04) - same nice Audi interior, adequate performance, Quattro, excellent cargo capacity, some scary reliability stories (engine sludge), scarier dealer stories<p>- SAAB 9-3 SportCombi 2.0T 5M - good handling, great cargo room/flexibility/safety, a bit too much GM influence on the interior, clutch/shift action still unimpressive.