Got my first one in 2002 with 120k on it, drove it for another 100k when the transmission finally crapped out. Liked it so much, I found one on eBay with 100k on it, bought it drove it cross-country (PA to CO) sight unseen and had zero mechanical issues with it. Had a timing belt fail about 6 months later, but other wise it's been great. It has a persistent oil leak (dunno where), and the A/C pooped out a while ago but that's pretty minor for a run-around/short-distance commuter car. I wish it has cup holders (tired of spilling beverages), but it still runs strong, no other mechanical issues. VERY pleased with the quality/longevity of both of these vehicles.
Cheap, small, easy to drive, plenty of power, good handling, easy to work on (routine maintenance), comfortable, sufficient cargo capacity for two (plus gear) but it would be small for three/four.
CUP HOLDERS. I doubt Mazda is going to go back and retrofit them at this point, but it would have been nice. Also, a better center armrest (taller/longer).