I bought this car brand new 8 years ago and I can honestly say it has been the best car I've ever owned! Thus far the only things we've had to change on it have been the brakes and of course the tires.
Anyway, great first time car for anyone! I will be trading up soon for a small SUV.
The Car itself is very reliable and has offered very good MPG.
There are three things that i struggle with, of which two are cosmetic. For the last 4 years the AC has broke down every summer (Texas heat - not cool!), the inside siding of the front doors were apparently glued on originally (vs. sown on) because they began peeling off 5 years ago, and the seats are no longer comfy.
Other than that the Mazda 3 has been great car!