2008 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
A month ago my cherished 323Ci had a meltdown. Living in L.A., I loved taking it through the mountain twisties on the weekend. With this economy, I decided to be prudent with replacement car. My ratings are based on expectations of the class, and not comparisons to my previous luxury car. I'm quite pleased with the handling of this compact. Though somewhat under-tired, it can stand up to a road like decker canyon blvd (23). The clutch is light in feel, but gives you a good sense of it's action through your foot, gearbox is excellent. Had the opportunity to test the brakes in a panic stop in my first week of driving, and they're probably in the top 10 of any car under $100k.
Aside from the fun of good grip, a manual transmission, and a free-reving engine, I really enjoy the heated seats: it's like having a back massager. I'm a big fan of the xenon headlights for safety, as well as the stability control. Interior is tasteful, and ergonomically efficient.
Turn signal sound is difficult to hear with the stereo on, minor, I know. No trunk release on the fob or even a handle is a serious oversight for convenience. driver window should be one-touch up as well, key release button is annoying, using the power outlet in the armrest renders aux jack useless