1st can be a bit hit and miss from a stand still, but I've had that on every manual I've ever owned and put it down to me. I can't report any of the other noises.
Sounds like the linkages rather than anything in the box itself.
This may sound daft but I've always found the gearboxes in Japanese cars (although I've never owned one) and left hand drive cars smoother, which makes me think the linkages are designed for hand pressure and movement for a specific hand.
Last edited by MatthewB; 18-10-10 at 21:39.