I've got a 2001 Focus ZX3 with a 5 speed. Got it for a good price, it's been a good car, paid for itself on fuel savings within 9 months, and is still kicking. Currently at 168k miles and still doing well. It's overdue for some routine maintenance and replaced wear items, but overall it's a good car. I'd be bored as hell if it were an auto, but with the 5 speed I can at least pretend it's fun to drive. I'd rather have another Subaru, but those cost another $2-3k for a comparable car.
As for 2.5L Subaru's having "expensive" head gasket issues, not so much. They tend to go out around 200k. Spend $500 in parts and take a weekend to replace the clutch, head gaskets, and timing belt and you'll have a car that'll run well for a long ass time.