I'm very skiddish around used, and even new VWs and Audis, due to at least perceived electrical issues. I'll take a used Toyota over *anything* used and European made, and the early WRX (2.0L car) is arguably the best DD you could hope to buy. 217hp doesn't sound like much compared to the 450hp that everyone around here seems to have, but it's enough to have fun, and be able to push the car to something resembling it's limits on public roads without grossly endangering yourself or others.
Personally, I'd go for the Celica AllTrac, myself. The 3S-GTE is the best 4-cylinder gas motor ever made (craps all over the SR20DET), is tweakable to 275hp, and if you want to get into turbo swaps, capable of over 400hp fairly easily (I've heard of examples in the 600hp range, though these were race motors). From the factory you're talking a yamaha DOHC head (same as a SHO) and fully forged internals.
The only downside to the Celica is finding aftermarket suspension components. Because of the AllTrac's rarity, it's difficult to find anything for the rears. That being the case, I'd probably end up with the Subaru. EJ20s are rock-solid motors and boxer engines do NOT sound anything like the fart cannon you referenced earlier (I've heard one system that sounded like a small-block at idle). As popular as they are, you'll be able to find all sorts of parts to mod them, and subaru AWD is some of the best in the world.
Get whatever makes you happy, though.