2006 Mazda 3 s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
After driving our 3 for about 6 months now, I can say without reservation that we have never owned a car that we enjoyed driving so much and had so much confidence in. It performs superbly, is beautiful to look at, and has so much more "character" than the other compacts we tested, including those from Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc. I don't know why anyone would need or want more in a car. It is an exceptional value because it looks and drives like a car costing twice as much. In short, we'd buy another one in a heartbeat. Some Hondas and Toyotas get better mileage, but who cares? This car pays dividends in fun that the others can't touch and the attention to detail is exemplary.
4 wheel disc brakes are outstanding, the handling is flawless, the motor has effortless acceleration, and when you really want to have some fun, it is so easy to drive exceptionally fast in this car. The leather seats are an excellent value. Inside and out, the car has panache. We fight over it.
The ONLY minor defect with the 3 is the use of a cartridge-style oil filter (as opposed to the spin-on type) on the 2.3 engine. It requires a cap-type filter wrench, but I've been able to find the tool and affordable filters on the after-market. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing. Bravo.