I traded my Subaru Forester in on a WRX wagon and couldn't be happier. The car is nearly as versatile, and much more pleasant and fun to drive. The 5 speed manual transmission has a notchy engagement feel, which can be alleviated with upgraded bushings, which I plan on doing at point. It took me a while to get used to the peakiness of the turbocharged 2.0 H4. It could be described as on or off, which is kind of nice in stop and go traffic. Keep it below 3k RPM's and you have nice little commuter car, wind it up a bit and you've got a little monster on your hands. Aside from the wonky gearbox, it's a fantastic little wagon.
Turbo boost is very addictive. Seats are firm and hold you in place. Nice steering feel. Brakes are firm and offer good modulation.
Turbocharged boxer engine with an exhaust note that makes V8s envious.
Service departments need improvements. Warranty denials for absurd reasons (I changed my tires therefore I must beat on my car which caused X problem). If Subaru would equip these vehicles with tires comparable to their performance level, tires wouldn't have needed to be changed).
After 2 years I still enjoy driving this car and have no regrets about the purchase. Build quality is good; my only complaint is an annoying and difficult-to-pin-down buzzing/rattling from the vicinity of the glovebox. That being said, it's a great car. The gearbox is a little finicky and temperamental. Turbo lag is apparent but partially mitigated with a Cobb AP. I personally think it's part of the fun. There are little things that could be improved but -none- of them would prevent me from buying the car again! It's not the fastest car out there but very few can haul all your gear, get you to-and-from the mountains, make you grin on the on-ramps, and get 24-25 mpg mixed city/hwy.
-Fast (enough). -Safe. -Reasonably good gas mileage (21-22 pure city, 27-29 hwy, real life driving.) -Cargo space. -Looks. -Availability of aftermarket parts.
-Requires premium fuel -Momo steering wheel is solid but too big for the twisties -Smoother gearbox -Stereo sounds lackluster -Tuning dial design stinks! -Beefier brakes -More robust A/C -Front defroster ought not automatically turn on A/C compressor.
In the 2.5 years and 30,000 miles I've had the WRX, it has been nearly perfect. Acceleration, even on regular unleaded, is awesome. I'm on the second set of tires, and did a "plus zero" on the stock wheels, and the slightly wider tires definitely improve the handling, although it's still no BMW when it comes to the ride/handling balance. The interior is still an Impreza econobox, but the Momo wheel and upgraded seats make a big improvement in looks and comfort! Overall, by far the best car I've owned.
Turbo! AWD. Economy.
Sunroof for the wagon, 6 speed manual for highway cruising at lower RPM (and better mileage).