I read all the reviews and test drove several small hatchbacks before selecting the Volvo C30 (with only one option - automatic transmission). The C30 standard features met all my other requirements. Overall, it cost less than the Audi A3, has more comfort than the Volkswagon GTI, and enough power to compete with both. Personally I don't like to "feel the road" as much as some, and I enjoy the unique styling. The C30 is a nice blend of sportiness and comfort at a reasonable price. One added benefit is the fact you don't see many of them on the road (yet) so it stands out in the crowd.
Interior design - interesting and unique but still simple and clean. The all glass hatch provides incredible rear visibility. A long list of standard safety features.
A version with two more doors would be nice. Maybe some larger sideview mirrors. I've only have my C30 for a week so I'm still learning about it.