Coming from an 04 Acura TSX, I was looking for something a little sportier and this fit the bill perfectly. 24k for a car that'll run mid 13s in the quarter, mid 20s for mpg, and have the utility of an AWD wagon (I live in New England) is unbeatable. I considered the MS3 and even the Cobalt SS but FWD on those was a major drawback. Plus the Cobalt looks like a Cobalt. The 08/09 MY Impreza wagons are the first Imprezas I've cared for stylistically (the rear of the sedan version is hideous IMO). I just broke the 1k mark but I've opened it up a few times already and man, the power is a huge improvement over my Acura. Averaged 25.5 mpg in single digit temps on a recent road trip too.
Power, AWD, color (Blue Mica), MP3 capability on the head unit (probably not a big thing these days but it's new to me), um... 0 - 60 in 4.7 seconds
6-speed, shorter shifts (that will be remedied by a kartboy setup as soon as warm weather returns though), better stereo options (though that's easy enough to remedy too).