I have not driven any earlier years, but I did buy an 08 5 door.
Moved from a 2 seat sports car to the WRX, so I am somewhat over sensitive to shortcomings in the handling and "feel" department.
And I'm not gonna discuss looks here.
Overall, I think it is a job well done, achieving a competent car to DRIVE and still maintain civility- but I think it needs more roll control, ie. most likely sway bars.
That is my single most likely mod at this point, and I am fairly sure I will do it when weather warms up.