Great car, love it but know what you are getting. Reliability: car will require some maintenance. Also reliability will vary with treatment more than some other cars, consider this when buying used. You will get electrical problems like brake light/check engine, do me a favor and don't buy/complain about this as it is not a "real" problem. Performance: depends on what you are comparing it to. Great compared to average cars: civic, grand am, saturn, etc. good driving experience corners well, accelerates, rear wheel drive which is completely under appreciated. Good blend of comfort and sport handling. But it is not a really fast car you will wish you had an M3 at times; though you can mod.
Everything has a purpose and makes sense. 29 mpg when driving ~70 mph. great feel.
Don't make an automatic, can't imagine driving this car like that. Really though, not too much to improve - some won't like cupholders.