After years of driving a thirsty pig of a Nissan Maxima, I decided I wanted something smaller and more economical. The thing is I was not willing to give up the fun to drive factor. After looking at many different cars, I always came back to the Mazda 3. It provides by far the most fun in its price class. In the nearly three years I've owned this car, I've been very impressed with the overall performance and quality. The steering and handling in particular are outstanding providing nearly BMW style feedback. I love this car as you could probably tell by now. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a economical car but can't stand boring cars like the Toyota Corolla.
As mentioned above, the steering and handling are superb. The 2.0L has decent power and torque. I also like the overall layout of the interior. My 6'3" frame fits well inside. The trunk is also a bit larger then one would expect. Mileage is good, about 27 MPG in mostly city/suburban driving.
The OEM Toyo tires were crappy and wore out within 15,000 miles. The Bridgestone I replaced them with are wearing very well though so it was the tires rather than the car. Also, I would have liked the 2.0 liter available in the hatch version. I may have bought that over the sedan.