I believe the car is advertised as having a 5 speed synchromeshed transmission. That means the average driver should be able to shift up and down through the gears at speeds normal for the gear selected without having to know about rev matching or double clutching. The car wasn't sold as having a 5 speed with synchros only on gears 2-5.
The dealership here in Tallahasee Fl. replaced my transmission's 1st and 2nd gear synchos when I brought it in with a grinding problem while shifting to 1st from 2nd at any speed. They didn't tell me the transmission was designed to make grinding noises when attempting to downshift into first at anything more than a roll.
If Subaru set out to design a 5 speed synchromeshed transmission they have suceeded. However, they didn't quite make their transmission bullet proof. The transmission does its job in a 'so so' fasion if you ask me. It's not especially smooth, nor does it have great 'feel'. I've had better shifting experiences in both Hondas (I know everyone here hates Hondas) and Mazdas. I'm not going to bash the tranny in the Suby cause it get's the job done. I will go as far as calling it the weak link in an otherwise awesome car. I think Subaru should take note of this and get a better tranny in their newer cars as they come to market.
And JGard18, here's one of the definitions of Niche:
"A special area of demand for a product or service". I don't think Subaru is attempting to corner the market on bulky shifting (or not shifting in some cases) transmissions. If Subarus have always had poorly designed transmissions that don't like shifting to first maybe it's time they fix the problem. By stating they are all this way you are admitting it's a problem. No one would design such an annoyance into a product.