Well, the Passat with the chip might be the best option, especially for most driving.
But I do like extra performance and tight handling (read WRX), otherwise I would have gone with the Passat without much hesitation.
The Mazda 6 ranked slightly above the Passat in a comparo, where both placed very well, out of a field of 10 cars.
Yes, the A4 is overpriced.
The previous version (maybe this is still the case) was smaller than the Passat in addition to costing more.
I don't see myself paying $4K * more (compared to Passat GLS) for the A4, which is essentially the same, as you mentioned, except for some slightly larger tires, slightly better handling(?).
* In addition, the sunroof is not even included in the A4!
Update: By the way I don't hate the WRX's looks, I just don't think they are as nice on the eyes as the Passat GLS or Mazda 6s.
If I really hated its looks, I wouldn't even consider it.