The small car segment in America is finally getting competitive, and Mazda does a great job of building a car that is comfortable, efficient, good looking, and (true to the Mazda heritage) fun to drive. I test drove the automatic, and while it is very good as far as four-speeds go, it is still a four speed, so I can only recommend the manual. While on paper the car may seem to weak, get behind the wheel (of the manual) and you'll experience a go-cart like driving sensation that can only be defined as pure bliss. The car is very efficient, and the engaging drive keeps giving me reasons to head out to the store or just to hit the road. Do yourself a favor, buy this car. You won't regret it.
The driving feel the car delivers; easily the best in segment.
American models don't come with automatic headlights as an option. Though not a huge deal, I'd like them.