Well, after some time thinking about it (and 7 months after starting a new job with big business mileage) I have given in to the work lease car option.
My S3 Sportback has been a great companion since the change of situation earlier this year. Although it's not every day that I travel by car, my usual round trips are 250-500 miles long - and as the summer has changed to autumn it's been great to have leather, Bose, heated seats, xenons and so on. I've even been getting 35mpg if I take it easy.
I've come to realise, though, that I've been appreciating the easy performance and comforts of my S3 more than its charms as a performance car. Yes, I can cover ground quickly if I want to, but I do so at risk of my license and getting home safely to my young family. It was also a small shock to realise that I really will be paying for the impending service, tyres, increased insurance premiums etc - and that my pence-per-mile mileage payments only just cover the costs.
So, I have ordered a new car through the work lease car scheme.
I looked very hard at the Audi options, as I really have become a fan over the last 5 years of owning firstly an A3 2.0T quattro and now my S3. Two things conspired against me though: 1) the non-availability of the A3 Sportback in high power diesel spec for at least 6-9 months and 2) Co2-based benefit in kind tax.
The front runner for a long time was a high-spec A4 Avant S-Line, although only the 2.0 177 TDI or lower-power 3.0 204 TDI were in contention for tax reasons.
I know none of you will understand / forgive me, but in the end my choice was a Volvo V60 D5. It was the most characterful car I could think of - it has a 215bhp / 332 lb.ft, 2.4 litre, twin turbo, 5-cylinder lump for starters; this should reduce the pain of switching to a low-Co2 diesel. I've ordered it in blue with SE Lux spec and the Dolby audio package:
The interior is also very distinctive and almost at Audi levels - I've made a slightly risky spec choice by going for the Beechwood leather:
I've also gone for the integrated rear booster seats for my little kids:
Finally, it's about £2k per year cheaper to run a brand new V60 D5 compared to my current 2.5 year old S3; £2k cheaper per year than even a 2.0 TDI A4 and about £3.5k cheaper than what I think it would cost to run an 8V S3 (when that's available).
I like this forum a lot and would no doubt have replaced my S3 with another Audi was it not for the work mileage and savings on offer through the work lease car scheme!