2009 Mazda MAZDA3 s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
Just got the car on 8/22, put on about 450 miles over the week end. About 30 mpg, mixed highway/city driving. Initial impressions: responsive, OK for power, nimble, good turn in with slight understeer (expected with front wheel drive), very good brakes and steering feel. Nice interior layout, good fit and finish. The Bose stereo, wiper controls and trip computer seem rather complex, but I'm on a learning curve. Great cargo and passenger flexibility. I wanted a well made, economical but still fun to drive little car and this fits the bill. At or close to best in class. My other vehicle is a '08 Ford F-150 Limited with a Cobra pack. A great truck, but not the constant $80+ fill ups.
Crisp handling, nice interior, very good stereo (Bose), moonroof, flexible cargo layout. Mazda has made this same basic model for several years, so the bugs should be pretty well exterminated by now. IPod hook up and concealed compartment is nice. Good paint and overall panel fit.
A new Mazda 3 is due for 2010. I'd like to see a slightly larger car, more power (maybe the 2.5 from the new Mazda 6), a 4wd option, a better grade of carpet, better OEM tires and perhaps a "performance package" above the base car but not quite as wild as the Speed3.