2007 Mazda Mazda3 s Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
Steering wheel feels great to grip. Does not feel like a front wheel drive car. Manual shifter is not only slick but has good insulation, almost no noise or vibration! 2.3L engine is smooth and powerful but gas mileage is not good, about 24 mpg (combined driving). Pretty roomy inside for a small car. Not much room for driver's feet, gas pedal and brake pedal are too close together. (This is with manual trans.) Standard single disc CD stereo sounds great, better than that in my '06 Lexus GS 300! Horn is too weak, a safety concern! Most unexpected: I still CRAVE to drive it, although I have been driving for 35 years and have sampled over 10,000 cars as a mechanic!
Styling and long list of standard equipment on the hatchback that are of good quality and work good. Made in Japan and priced right (although I would still buy it if it cost a few thousands more).
More lighter color choices esp. interior. 6-speed trans for better mileage. Shifter with shorter throw. A louder horn. A little more efficient AC system. A little more space for the pedals. Remote operation for the hatch door only. A heavier duty fuel door with a good gas cap holder.