I bought this car as an upgrade from my 1996 hatch and it was a definite change. There is definitely more power and throwing in power steering doesn't hurt the situation. The power in the car won't put you pack in your seat (maybe at the higher end of first gear), but it's a nice change from the paltry 106 hp of the lower end models. The car has done nothing but run great for me. The only problems I've had are that the alignment of my driver's side window motor turned bad, but I fix all things myself and it was quite easy. The other problem was that the exhaust pipe rusted through, which was also a problem on my other Honda. Again, not much of a problem and an easy fix.
To me the overall look is great and it still has the compact feel that got lost in later designs. The engine is peppy enough to provide for some fun and the handling only helps for coming fast out of turns... legally. All power options also helped turn me to the car.
Adding more power would have been nice, but that was addressed in later Si models, though torque is still a problem. Maybe offer a better looking interior, luxury wise, even though it is at heart an economy car. As with all older Hondas, better rust protection couldn't hurt either.