2007 Mazda MAZDA3 s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5A)
Maybe I'm the industry's worst nightmare. Their strategy is to get people to move UP the price/prestige ladder, not down. As a cash buyer I cross shopped G35, IS250, 325i because they should have been my next "step" from a current Maxima. Those cars are certainly nicer than the 3 in some ways but definitely NOT $15-20K nicer. It is well balanced, composed, and offers a great compromise between ride and "connectedness". The ergonomics are intuitive and controls are well placed. Throttle response with the 5A is better than any other 4 cylinder/auto combination I can recall. This is an honest vehicle not trying to masquerade as something it isn't. Well done Mazda!
Rear sheet metal styling. Solid drivetrain. Driver ergonomics.
Carpet seems less than durable. Switch to rear wheel drive and the car would be perfect.