Honestly, I'm actually quite surprised at how much I like driving the CVT. I've always been a manual transmission type of guy, but I feel that the CVT goes well with this car. Also, the CVT equipped Impreza actually feels quicker and more responsive than my manual Impreza. As far as noise is concerned, I don't find the CVT to be any noisier than the 5-speed. I don't hear that "CVT whine" that everyone's always talking about. Gas mileage has also been better than in my 5-speed, but I expected as much. I'm quite pleased overall with the CVT. It's nowhere near as bad as I imagined it to be.
If I were to do it all over again, I would probably have to think long and hard about which transmission I would choose for my Impreza instead of just jumping into a manual.