Have seen some bad reviews of manual trans - I think it is excellent through the first four gears, with just 5th and 6th being a bit rope-a-dope to get there.
And the manual really makes the engine come alive.
Also, i am comparing to a 2008 328i BMW, and a 2004 Honda S2000 - Honda the best obviously, but I would say IS 250 trans better than 328i.
Rev-happy engine, manual trans, very good handling, intuitive features and controls, very good ride, comfortable seats, good steering feel for most driving.
Handling and steering certainly could be dialed up a couple of degrees for really spirited driving.
A few more horsepower, a slightly bigger back seat, and memory seats and mirrors in basic premium package.