I fell in love with the car when it first came out, replacing the interesting Protege 5 with a more substantial car with a much beefier engine. The Mazda3 5-door brings fun, quality, and style to the compact market without sacrificing price and fuel economy too much. I tend to get 23-27MPG in the city with fairly aggressive acceleration. The seats in the 5-doors are a high quality cloth, with a great look and feel. I am tall at 6'2", and I fit comfortably in the driver seat. I even have it forward a click, and if I do not recline my seat too much, I can get a 6 foot person behind me. Much more room than my friend's 04 Jetta. Overall, it is a great car with features and quality to boot.
The engine and manual transmission are outstanding. The car is very confident, even at high speeds. The 5 door comes standard with many features such as 17" alloy, great lights, power everything, and a good stereo. BTW, the handling is amazing, especially for front wheel drive.
The AC can take a little longer than average to cool when it has been sitting in the FL sun for hours. I would like to see better gas mileage for it's HP, maybe 28/34 instead of 26/31.