Our Mazda3 (S model, nearly all options) has lived up to the hype so far (3,000 miles). This is my (soon-to- be) wife's daily driver and she is constantly speaking of how much fun it is to drive and how many positive remarks she gets from others. The handling is crisp and responsive; the acceleration is better than adequate (some torque-steer present and can bog down at low RPMs). The seating position is a bit higher than I'm used to, but you feel well confined. The A-pillar (along windshield) can obstruct views. The trunk is large (and so is the trunk lid). Our car has the 17" wheels and rides on the rough side. In all, an much more rewarding alternative to the typical commuter sedan.
Exterior styling and Winning Blue color, 5-speed shift action, unique "textured" dash, handling, optional wing, vibrant gauge cluster, steering wheel controls, large glove box, and certainly the xenon headlamps - they're like search lights!
I've heard some buzzing from the dash, more low-end power couldn't hurt, the stereo seems just average, and the paint scratches easily. Really, very little to complain about. How about a MazdaSpeed edition with AWD?