2008 Mazda MAZDA3 New s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
I got interested in the new 2010 Mazda 3, but test-drove the car and didn't like the interior or rear-quarter blind spots at all. Got interested in the old-generation ("leftover") '08 and '09 Mazda 3s still on the lot, drove one, and liked it much better -- especially on the inside. Made a great deal on a loaded '08. I think this is the class of the small-Asian-sedan segment -- more distinctive than the Corolla or Civic and streets ahead of the Sentra in terms of comfort, performance and amenities. It's roomy up front (not so much in back), quick off the line, great in the corners, and styled like a bargain-basement BMW. Worthy competitor to Jetta at less cost, better build quality.
Exterior styling, responsive 2.3L engine, supportive seats, tight handling. Decisive, solid-feeling manual transmission. It's a high- content car for the price: DSC, Xenons, heated leather seats, Bose stereo, 6-CD in-dash, trip computer, compass in mirror, electronic climate control, much more.
A LOT of road noise from coarse Goodyear tires on 17" wheels. MPG is only fair at 25-26 combined. No push- button trunk release (but they fixed that for '09). Gray exterior paint is totally anonymous, blends into bad weather (most color choices are real bland and low-profile).