2008 Mazda MAZDA3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
The Mazda3 is hands down the best car to buy out of all the compacts if you're looking for value and maybe a little respect on the road. I test drove every car in this class trying to find a car that wouldn't bust my bank and was still fun to drive. Nothing compared to the Mazda 3 when it comes to the fun to drive factor and the amount of options for the price. If you like driving a manual transmission make sure you test drive this car. Nothing else compares when it comes to 5 speed manuals at this price. I've been nothing but impressed with my Mazda 3 so far. Mazda has done a great job of reinventing themselves.
Performance and styling. European styling inside and out make the car look like a lot more than a budget compact. The suspension is amazing and the engine is geared just right. There is virtually no lag when shifting unlike its competitors (Much better than the VW Jetta I test drove).