Just bought this little beauty for my wife and we absolutely love it! Drive this, then go drive a BMW 328 and I'm pretty sure you'll find it difficult to justify spending another 15K for little more than luxury brand image. Mazda built one heck of a car. Only complaint is lack of standard IPOD integration -- bluetooth is great though so we just stream music through our iphones (the bose stereo is worth the extra $). For a compact the mileage may not be what most expect, but if you want 4 or 5 more mpg buy a Civic (great car too), but you'll miss out on the great character and the hell this car can raise on the road!
Driving Enthusiasts Car, Handles like a great weekend track car and suspension is still surprisingly supple, Solid feel of everything, rich materials and textures, sweet sounding bose stereo, bluetooth, great seats, near perfect ergonomics, cargo space w/hatchback
standard ipod integration -- but bluetooth takes care of this if you have the right type of cell phone. Mazda, change nothing else!