I traded down from a Volvo V40, now the V50 to the Mazda-3S hatchback. While the quality of the interior materials in the Mazda are of a much lower quality. the comfort and ride is far superior. This is a great car for the money. I just drove it from New York to Miami and it was a pleasure. The only problem, and this drives me nuts, is when I'm in 5th gear, every time I put my foot on the gas pedal an audible whistling/vacuum cleaner sound from the engine starts and intensifies as I speed up. The moment I take my foot off the gas it stops. It is awful and I need to play music all the time in order to mask it.
Storage space is great, the controls on the steering wheel - cruise control, volume controls - are great. The gas mileage is good. The look of the car is great.
Fix the whistling sound! And use interior materials that don't get dirty so easily and are easier to clean.