I was looking at buying the new 2012 base impreza as a welcome change from my boring rav4 v6 awd. For the heck of it I took a 2011 wrx hatchback out for a test drive as I had never driven one. I was looking for the 37 mpg impreza, mind you. Within 25 minutes of my wrx test drive the rav was traded in and the wrx was mine. No regrets. None Zero Zilch. I did not wake up at two in the morning thinking "what have I done?!". By far the most enjoyable car I have ever been in. I get 21 mpg overall with about 60 city/40 highway. I have a very heavy foot in town when I can do so safely. On the highway I like to just cruise at 70 with the occasional blistering pass. I have a Yakima skybox 16 on top and still manage 25 mpg highway. 65 mph without a box or racks is about 29 mph. I have a Cobb stage 1 flash and everything else is stock: except for the tinted windows and taillights...

The car is seriously fun. I live in snow country and with dedicated snow tires the winter performance is very impressive. I don't care much about mpg in this car. It's just too fun to drive. It's my daily driver, family ski car, and about twice a week I take it out at about 10 pm on some rural highways and open it up a bit. I almost 50, never had a speeding ticket--ever--and this car makes me feel 16. My wife, who is a very tame driver loves the car as well. For her it's just as much the leather and moon roof, as it is the fun of a manual and the feel of the car around corners. The hatch has a lot of room. I am 6'4" and the driver seat is very roomy.

If you live in an area where you can enjoy some of what the car can do I don't think the mpg will bother you. If you live in a big city full of 25 mph stopband go it might not be the best choice.