Bought my 2004 in 2006 while still under warranty, and 9 years and 138000 miles later am only now thinking of upgrading. Longest I've ever driven one particular vehicle. The most cost comes with replacing the low profile tires so frequently but otherwise has been essentially maintenance free with giving it regular oil changes and routine checkups. I absolutely love this solid little car. I even discovered I could camp in it. As I age I need slightly better front seats for comfort and therefore am also looking to upgrade to maybe a Mazda CX-5. I love hatchbacks, I don't like SUVs, vans and sedans and this car is perfect.
Bought this car new in 2004 and approaching 90k miles. Every mile has been enjoyable. Thought about getting a newer car with better performance and luxury, but decided that this car so perfectly meets my needs, I'm going to drive it into the ground.
No major problems (aside from nasty pothole related suspension stuff) and has maintained high 20's combined mileage while remaining fun to drive. Won't win a drag race, but can slalom with many "performance" cars.
Definitely recommend upgrading stock rubber to slightly wider, stickier set. On my third set of BFG's 215/45R17 rubber. Great tires for this car.
Strong engine, excellent suspension, subtley dynamic styling (don't like the smiley face 2010+), huge cargo carrying capability, comfortable interior (I'm 6'2" and there is a ton of room for me)
A quick update, I've posted before. Now over 100k miles in under 6 years, my Mazda3 is still going strong, with no major issues. I am still on the stock, original clutch- though it's pretty worn right now. Timing belt is due- which requires pulling the engine. :( With just oil changes and lots of miles, I wouldn't complain about a few more hp to match the superb suspension. Lifetime best tank of 38mpg, typical 30mpg highway biased driving, but not especially gentle. I absolutely love the great visibility from HIDs, and very comfortable seats for long drives. Cupholders and right elbow support could be improved for better ergos, but overall excellent. No regrets about this purchase.
Suspension; headlights (HID); firm, comfortable seats don't give numb-butt after 12 hour drives.
Cupholders, right elbow support could be reconfigured slightly for better long-drive comfort. Stereo, while nifty integrated console, precludes easy upgrade to standard DIN module. OEM replacement console insert with DIN would be a good option, clock and temp display driver for console display.
A fun car to drive with the optional 2.3 liter engine. I prefer manual transmission, but the automatic was good because of the manual shift feature. Fit and finish were very good. Good room (we had the hatchback), handing and steering tight and nimble. Only problem was with one window that quit working, but our local dealer fixed under warrantee with no issues. Local dealer experience very good. They offered free tires and battery for the life of the car if regular scheduled maintenance done. Good fuel economy, we actually got better than what's posted on the window sticker. A good car for the money, don't even bother with any comparable American-made compacts.
Peppy engine, nimble handling, a good stereo system. Strong windshield Glass, resists flying Stone cracks better than other cars.
Offer more manual cars, go with less power assist in the steering. Maybe offer a two door version to compete with Honda and scion coupes.
I love this car. I bought it new 5 years ago and I still get a thrill driving it. The car hugs the road, has lots of power, and is a super easy stick shift to drive. My wife hated sticks until this car. It gets me to work without costing too much, it gets the entire family around comfortably, and I can load it up with junk from Home Depot. The versatility combined with a car that's a joy to drive makes it a no-brainer car to buy. I average 27 mpg in traffic, and 30-31 mpg highway.
Powerful engine, great suspension, forgiving stick shift, great interior, head turning looks, versatile interior.
Better speakers and an AUX jack. I wish the tires were cheaper.