The WOW effect is in the eye of a photographer. Personally, I didn't find any of the wows in Dustin's link so it's always down to what works for you. Some lenses are awful at cettain distances, sonetimes distracting rendering of the OoF areas works better than silky smooth, really, there's no rule.
I wouldn't agree with S35/1.4A being clinical, it is indeed a quite modern lens design and it takes some time to get used to advantages coming from that design. Here's my post from other forum where I gave some examples from Sigma:http://www.dizajnzona.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=65927&view=findpost&p=1256406
See, when I bought the 24-70/2.8L mk2 lens I was a bit turned off by lens being almost perfect in so many ways especially because I got used to mk1 rendering quite a lot but after a while I got used to it and now I just love it. It's just about getting to know your tools and the trademarks they give and, like I've said - it always boils down to whatever works for you personally.