So what about the SI version of the Civic? Everything you like about Civic but with more power!
You could also look for Mazda 3 with 2.5 and manual. Both of these are in you price range used
If you want to go larger look for a Honda Accord with V6 and manual - not sure if you can get this in a sedan but you can in a coupe
More about the Civic
More about the Mazda3
More about the Accord