There is no competition for this car in the compact market. We are a two Mazda family and I enjoy driving this car as much as I enjoy driving our RX8. The handling is absolutely superb, the brakes are fantastic and the engine is very peppy for a 4 cylinder. We got a fairly loaded example (leather, auto, moonroof, 6 CD) and love it to death. Just did our first long haul, San Jose to LA, to Vegas, to San Jose and enjoyed it very much. The car is very comfortable and smooth, great long distance cruiser. Best part was we were moving at a good pace and still averaged 26 mpg for the trip.
The options to have this car loaded with NAV, leather, tire pressure monitoring, HID etc. The handling of the 5 door is superb. The exterior is very nice, and the interior design is excellent. The gauges are very cool as well. Tiptronic auto works great and is *almost* as good as having a 5 speed.
Add another gear or two to the auto tranny to give even better fuel economy. Auto up/down windows would be great.