2008 Mazda MAZDA3 New s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
At 53 sold my impractical touring motorcycle so I needed some sport w/practicality. Drove VW Rabbit, but 2.3 Mazda 3 was smoother and have owned both in the past, Mazda more reliable. Most important is Electronic Stability Control, have not been able to get it to skid, it is like glued to the road like a Porsche 911 but more balanced. Precise steering. Acceleration is good, better than I expected and it is fun to pass 3 cars at a time on two lane highway. Needed manual and sun roof to keep sport feeling but is clumsy with cell phone in traffic. Very quiet at hwy speeds, 3,050 rpm at 70 in 5th, redlines at 6,500 rpm (top 149 mph??). S Touring has lots of features, cruise, etc. Doors solid.
Build quality, features for under $20m. Sport handling and good power with manual since power really kicks in above 5m rpm. This is a real sports car. Auto volume of stereo to road. Love the hatch versatility, can put seats down and carry a big TV. Av. 26.81 cty/hwy mpg with good power.
Unlike other makes, Mazda seems to be actually trying to surprise us with value and features. No suggestions, you can tell someone is thinking, even a removable front tow bolt is included!