My '99 Forester L was only about $700 more than my wife's '00 RS Sedan. Both were bought new.
But, as you can tell, I totally agree with you. I like the previous gen Impreza's looks better, too. As for the Forester... just look at the pics on my page and you'll see how much I LOVE them. My L outcorners my wife's RS! And her car has Tein S-Tech Softs in it. And with the header, K&N, and exhaust, it will at the very least keep up with her stock RS.
The Forester is only 10% heavier than the RS. Remember that. 300 lbs. Now, a turbo'd Forester woun't be as fast as a comprably turbo'd RS, but then again, it WILL be faster than your average "hopped-up" civic and stock Mustang GT!
And I already out cornered a brand new WS6 Firebird. (heheheh!) Really pissed that guy off. He took me on the straight, but not the corner!