The handling is terrific, fun to drive, gets reasonable mileage even with the 2.3 s model, very comfortable and the interior space and quality exceeded my expectations. The larger brakes on the s model stop the car in such short distances that I have to re-adjust my following distance when driving my other vehicle. For the money, this car is a well kept secret. I had a 2001 Miata which was great fun to drive, but had inherent safety issues of a convertible. The Mazda 3s is nearly as much fun to drive (actually, accelerates quicker) and can be driven year-round. If BMW made this exact car their new entry level vehicle they could not make enough of them at $27K price.
Handling, acceleration, overall quality, modest price, just a hoot to drive. Features worth reading the manual about - for example, you can use the radio buttons to test the signal strength of each radio station. Found that I could replace the long antennae with a 'nubby', improve reception/looks.
Heated seats available with fabric interior cloth would be appreciated, an option for something other than the originals is a must if you live in snow country. I had planned on replacing the original tires with winter rims/Blizzak tires so the cost was not a surprise to me. Original tires ok.