The Audi A3 is the first premium hatchback to get it right, meshing utility, performance and smart styling. Perfect for carting a small family, the nimble 2.0-liter turbocharged model with a six-speed manual has plenty of power, but opt for the six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG), and the A3 is a veritable sports car. DSG is a semi-automatic transmission with the guts of a manual, using a pair of alternating clutches to produce lightning-quick shifts (two tenths of a second) with no interruption in torque flow. It helps shoot this pocket Audi to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. $24,700 – $26,220