This is the first new car that I have owned. With the current interest rates and promotions at the time, it simply made sense for the first time to buy new. Yes it is true that this is not a "Luxury" car. (Compared to our 1998 Buick LeSabre, many features are lacking). However the 5 speed stick is very responsive. The sound system is quite good, mileage very good. The only negative that I have seen is the clutch seems to "flutter" a bit in 2nd gear (sort of like a bungie cord). Overall I am very happy with the purchase. I have 13k miles with absolutely no maintenance issues whatsoever. (Also the 5mph rear bumpers really do work!) I was even complimented on my "Parking Style".
Stick is very responsive. Mileage is really never what you expect. I average 27 total including a low of around town driving. I have only broken 30mph a few times. But overall fuel consumption is good. The sound system is far better than you would expect.
Manual transmission in 2nd often feels like it is connected by a "bungie" coard. A bit of bounce from 1st to 2nd in freeway traffic is a bit anoying.