2005 Mazda MAZDA3 SP23 Special Edition 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
I LOVE my car. This is my third Mazda. My wife refers to it as "the other woman." I could have bought more car when I bought this one, and that will only become more true in the future, but I can't picture myself without this car. There is not a car made for under 35,000 that I would even trade this car for. The car handles like a champion and is wicked fun to drive. It is a beauty and has drawn countless compliments. It has proven to be reliable and inexpensive to maintain. Several friends have compared it favorably or even directly to a BMW 3 series. All of that said, read the laundry list of suggested improvements below.
Comfort, styling, handling, performance (to a point... see below), fit and finish, reliability, value, Bose sound, leather heated seats, automatic headlights and windshield wipers, huge trunk, cavernous glovebox.
40-50 more horsepower (this car would be nigh on perfect with that one tweak), reasonably sized visors, less brake dust, fewer rattles in the doors, midrange adjustment on the Bose, replace stock crap Goodyear rubber with Goodyear Tripletreads or Bridgestone Potenzas, better elbow support or padding.