I was looking for an affordable well designed, well made, sophisticated, fun-to-drive SMALL car that got over 30mpg and didn't feel like a Fisher Price toy inside. Amazing how rare that was a couple of years ago. It has mostly fulfilled that expectation. (too bad Saturn went out of business 2 months after I bought it). Every drive feels like an event. This is as much about the overall quality of the interior (design, precise assembly & materials: I have leather), well weighted controls, beautifully damped ride and refinement of response than outright power. Actually the car has plenty of power, it just lacks torque below 1500 rpm, so it feels a bit dead until you learn to drive around that.
Fun to drive, ride and road-holding, economy (ca. 31mpg), 6 CD stereo, gearshift (5spd), sculpted exterior, quality of assembly, thorough design (e.g. large glove compartment, good headlights/wipers, ESC, heated seats, tidy under-hood), overall character, rarity, cost thousands less than "competitors"
Really needs 6th gr/higher final drive ratio (ca 73 mph indic. = 3,500 rpm); can be hard to find comfortable driving position, as seat doesn't go back far enough/is too low (seats themselves are v. comfortable); steering, tho direct & precise, lacks feedback below 45 mph; delicate paintwork