Researched similar vehicles to death, but having owned 2000 and 2002 Proteges with no unscheduled maintenance problems, the 2008 was a no-brainer. It's fast enough, handles as if on rails, driver's seat and position are a great fit. Averaging 34 mpg in mixed Spring driving (I coast a lot downhill). Owner oil and filter changes are not difficult if you have ramps that are not steeply angled. Trade your premium fuel burners. It would be difficult not to like the value in the Mazda3.
Trunk space is grocery-adequate, but loading angle is a bit awkward. Indentation in center of back bumper for grabbing the trunk lid should be slightly enlarged. Don't need the goofy "HELLO" on the start-up display. At least it doesn't talk.