I was given this as my first car, and I love it. It has 115000 miles and is nine years old, but it is very reliable and runs great. My parents own this car for all of the original miles, and there has only ever been one minor problem with the engine, but it was resolved easily, and the oil is changed every 3000 miles. Mine has a automatic, but I would suggest a five speed manual. I also installed aftermarket headers and exhaust.
Ride quality, low noise level, sharp steering and response to the road
20-30 more horsepower would be nice, better brakes (mine squeak a lot)