2008 Mazda MAZDA3 s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5A)
Bought this car new last year after several years in an Audi A6 wagon. This Mazda3 made the step-down very easy to take. Very sporty car with lots of interior space. Surprisingly agile handling and a high fun to drive factor. It's not an Audi interior (what else is?), but it's miles above the competition at this price point (and higher). No repair issues at all.
MP3 compatibility (great location). Dashboard lighting. Large hatch with seats flat (great for our three dogs). Large glovebox. Steering wheel controls. Sporty handling.
I got the base model for a great price. No improvements needed.