Bang for the Buck!
By thebrakeman on
2004 Mazda 3 s 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
Purchased used with about 24k miles. Titanium Gray, black leather, 5-speed, ABS/airbag package, 6 CD/moonroof package, TPMS/Xenon package. Previous car was '89 Ford Probe GT, which was a Mazda clone. I really miss the low rpm torque from the Probe's turbo (Mazdaspeed3 will be awesome!), but overall, I can't be happier. I could have purchased a new '05 Ford Focus ST (5-speed, same 2.3L Mazda motor) for about the same money, but the Focus interior and features STINK compared to the Mazda3. Also test drove several Dodge SRT-4's (TURBO!), but again, the interiors were not livable compared to the 3 (not to mention the race car open exhaust).
Slick 5-speed a dream to operate. 5- door cargo/utility can't be matched in this class. Easily took lawn mower for service (get self-adhesive bumper protectors). Stock stereo is clear/powerful. Steering wheel controls and other features make this feel like it's not an economy car.
The only addition I would add is a low-pressure turbo to help with low end torque. The 1-2 shift isn't quite as fun as it could be.