2005 Mazda 3 SP23 Special Edition 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
My wife and I purchased our metalic red 3 new .Granted her commute to work is 7 miles round trip , this car has performed flawlessly.no squeaks or weird noises at all.All I've ever done to it was change the oil and rotate the tires .Thats's all it ever needed. Maintenance is very inexpensive. It's a little cramped for me at 6'4 305 lbs butit drives very well . It's quiet but very sporty. The handling in off the chain!The tranny has been reliable but needs another gear,the engine needs another 20-30 hp. MY wife picked it over the coblt because of it's cheezy interior,it has better styling cues than the civic which to her is a me too car.I highly recommend this car to anyone, its that good.
Reliability,styling,handling,features and resale.
Mazda has already addressed those items in their new mazda 3 with the 5 spd auto and a few extra ponies. and hopefully they widend the space between the front seats or trim the center console down to keep knee and other leg room provisions comfy in future models.