After owning the car for a year, the only car I wish to have instead is the newer 2006 Mazda 3 which added a trip computer. By all mean, this is a car I would otherwise pay additional $5k for, of course with a few more bells and whistles. But the basic feeling and driving is all there to it. This car is not just one step ahead but way better than any other new compact car in this price range. I stick with the basic features for the best value. Skip the ABS...this car stops well in the rain. Choose manual tranny and you won't be disappointed with the performance and gas mileage.
Whatever standard on the car is sufficient. The rear view mirror with outside temperature (in either C or F) and compass display is cute. It is convenient to have a factory optional MP3 CD player available, but it's a bit pricey, even if I get to keep the original CD player.
I don't know if Mazda engineer forgot or what. They failed to include the retain accessory power (after turning off the engine) on this little wonderful vehicle. How expensive can this be? It will be missed almost everyday! Variable speed windshield wipers is also needed during the rainy season.