I previously owned an Intrepid with roughly the same MPG, but nowhere close to the responsiveness, handling or acceleration of the Japanese Monster. Prior to purchasing the STi I did a little research on the Evo MR. For the price and resale value, you just can't beat the Subie. Granted the Evo has a slight advantage in most categories, the Impreza is much more fun on a daily basis and as a daily drive. IMO if you are looking for a strictly track car get the MR, if you plan on having a life outside of direct competition, you better bet the STi takes the win. Subaru has an awesome track record, unlike most of its Japanese-American counterparts.
All in all it's the handling. Just love this car in the winter, AWD has FWD and RWD spinning the tires in confusion. On the other hand 300HP and Brembo brakes are enjoyable in their own right, haven't had much in the way of favorable driving conditions. For the few days we have had, it was LAFS.
The front hood scoop and rear spoiler could be dropped entirely. I went with the RS hood and trunk lid along with a FMIC to remedy that slight inconvenience. Otherwise all-season tires, and a black on black interior would satisfy most. I just don't care for blue.