Don't we already get the Golf R here? It's definitely a great car. I'm an inline 6/RWD kinda guy though, so BMW is the natural choice for me.
It will have a 6 speed manual, and the rumors are that it is the same box as in the M3/M4. I am in the same camp. I will not EVER buy another modern BMW if they do not continue to offer manual transmissions. I think Porsche, Ford, and Chevy are going to be some of the last holdouts for manul trans junkies like you and I. You just don't have the control with a dual clutch transmission that you do with a manual. Even in the 458 Italia which is one of the best automated manuals in the world, the control of having a clutch just isn't there, not to mention the joy to be had from manually rowing your own.
The idea of synthesized engine noises bother me, but I believe BMW has said that its an actual amplification of the engine noise, not a prerecorded soundtrack like the system in the F10. Also about the size...I think it's perfect! You're right, a lot of people have been calling the f80 m3 the spiritual successor to the e39 m5. All fantastic cars.
The BMW M2 seems like an incredibly exciting car. E46 size (unfortunately not weight ) with a DCT should be great fun. I think BMW knew they couldn't stuff an S55 engine in it because it would cannibalize too many m4 sales LOL!
I agree that this size car is about perfect if you have a family. I just wish BMW made something a bit more sporty for the bachelor (and bacheloretts!) out there who want something more communicative and intimate to drive. Luckily BMW now has the largest carbon fiber production facility in the world and we will soon see the full lineup of cars with varying degrees of CFRP construction. The next M2 will be the car to have, but I'm worried that BMW will put a turbo 4 cylinder in it. I'm sure it would be great fun, but I'd just much rather the sound and torque of a nice inline 6. The E30 M3 is plenty enough high-strung 4 banger for me :)