I love it. The 2.3 has plenty of power and it handles great. I average around 29 miles per gallon in mixed driving with the air on. The trunk is large for a car this size and has plenty of room. I'm 6'3" and have room and someone still can sit behind me. The only drawback is there is no 12 volt outlet. I have to use the cigarette lighter and it shuts off with the car.
It tells you what the outside temperature is and I love the gauges.
With 10 days (700 miles) of ownership of my first new car I am very pleased. 2 tanks of fuel averaging 27 MPG (70% highway, slightly aggressive driving) so far (manual transmission). Solid car with great git-up. I love how the car handles. Some types of road, amazingly quiet, other types lots of road noise. Compared most all other compacts, this was the best all around car we liked. Other cars had things that stood out, but nothing had as good of a package like this 3 did. Great handling with decent ride. I love this car so far.
Steering wheel mounted radio controls, the accelerator, style, enormous glove box. Handling!
Trunk release on key fob & larger trunk opening. 6 speed manual (mileage). MP3 capable CD player. Better A/C- works decent in Texas, just slow to get cold. HID headlights. Large cups kind of get in way of manual shifter. All these are nitpicks, best car in its class for the price.
I traded a 2003 Chevy Silverado in on this Mazda 3 5-door because the Chevy truck was the most uncomfortable vehicle I've ever owned. The Mazda 3 has a 2.3l inline 4-cylinder that has quicker zip than even my 6-cylinder truck had, and 30 mpg highway isn't bad. The drivers seat is very comfortable and all the controls are very easy to reach. I strongly recommend the 5-speed manual transmission for the most pep. Visibility is awesome in this vehicle. I drove a Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tuscon, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Honda Civic (my second choice), and a Dodge Caliber before finally deciding the Mazda was the best choice. None of the other vehicles even come close in performance and visibility.
The pep and quickness of the 2.3l engine is my favorite. The body design is second. Back seat room is also pretty good. Not as good as my wifes Chrysler 300M, but the average adult back seat passenger has enough room for a comfortable ride.
Room in the hatch could be a little better. I have to fold down one of the seats to fit my golf bag, although I wouldn't compromise back seat legroom. Air conditioner could put out a bit more cold. It's cold enough to provide comfort in 95+ degree heat, but it takes a while to bring temp down.
2006 Mazda 3 s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
The 3 is an excellent blend of performance, economy, space, quality and style. On paper, comparisons to the Civic and Matrix seemed appropriate, but behind the wheel the 3 proved itself to have no peer in this price range. It seems more BMW 3 than Mazda 3, with the thoughtful blend of speed and comfort, the Teutonic feel of its controls and apertures, the wily blend of family-car and naughty-car. No, it's not perfect. Some things, I suspect, may be blamed on the marketing department, e.g. gouging us on the cost of the navigation system and the MP3 player. And a few things might be blamed on the engineers, such as the small sunroof and the lack of a 6th gear. But overall, outstanding!
BALANCE, evidenced by superb, rally-type handling in the snow. DESIGN, proven by SUV-scale trips to the store, wagon-scale handling of our baby seat, and admiring glances. Real AND apparent quality, witnessed by the solid THUNK of doors and 9000 miles of (mostly) carefree driving. Sweet shifter!
(1) With a sixth gear, MPG would be far better. (Blame car mags with their emphasis on top-gear-passing-times. Hello! I don't mind downshifting! That's why I bought a stick). (2) Just me, but the sunroof should be bigger. (3) MP3 costs $500? Mazda, that's ridiculous! (4) $2000 nav? Equally dumb.