I've been reading up on it and it seems like a good jump for me. It does have a slightly notchy issue with 3rd gear, but other people have recommended switching the MT fluid, which seems like a decent workaround (or I can live with it, can't be worse than my current car).
The Timing Belt is probably the big to do - in your opinions, is it "pretty easy" to do with the engine in the car and hand tools? I've done alternators, starters, struts, etc - and even a clutch (probably never again). It just looks like it would take all day, but would be worth the bucks saved.
Also, how long would you say it takes to swap spark plugs and do valve adjustments?