I was looking for a more fuel efficient vehicle than my Toyota Sequoia. I've always owned Toyotas and test drove the new '09 Matrix. I wasn't impressed with the responsiveness or the overall looks. I test drove the Mazda 3 and was immediately impressed. The 3 has a very sporty look, it's comfortable, responsive, handles well, holds the road well in curves and has lots of features standard safety and otherwise. This car has more standard features than the Matrix such as stereo & cruise control on the steering wheel, and 17" alloy wheels. I sacrificed a little gas mileage between the Matrix 1.8L 4 speed and the Mazda 2.3L 5 speed but I ended up with a car that's a lot more fun to drive.
Styling, handling, power, 17" alloy wheels, steering wheel controls, MP3 player plug in.
Reduce road noise (due to low profile tires?), the horn is embarrassing, daytime running lights, automatic door lock after car is in gear, longer center console/armrest and improved MPG.