I'd look at a Mazda 3 first. They really have the best power to weight ratio of the economical/reliable compacts out there. They have 2.5l and 2.0l engine options, both are common and they're common as both hatches or sedans.
Secondly, do you need a big-engine spec V/Si/type S etc. etc. car to enjoy your driving experience? I personally find that the fun of driving is more from running the manual transmission, cornering, and flogging a small engine rather than having maximal straight line acceleration capabilities. The bigger engines can kind of Mustang-ify a car; making it heavier, faster in a straight line, but worse in cornering. Granted, sometimes suspension upgrades try to compensate for weight increases. If you find that, for example, the driving experience of a 5spd 2500#, 117hp Honda Fit is sufficient, that will be thousands and thousands of dollars more economical than any of the Type Si-V's of the world.
As an alternate automotive strategy, you could get a cheap SAAB. Get an early 00's $3k turbo 9-3 or 9-5. Sure they're not the most reliable, but just run them untill they die and buy another. Consider them "disposable SAABs". For the price you get a lot of car. Just make sure you can find a good SAAB mechanic locally. If you run the cost numbers over the 6 years you're concerned with, this could be cost competitive if you're savvy about repairs.