The Mazda 3 hatchback is an incredible value. So many standard features that you would most likely have to pay extra for with other comparable brands (Honda, Toyota, Subaru). The car is a joy to drive - handling is impeccable for it's class, engine is powerful for the weight to power ratio. My decision to purchase this car was also based on the new Consumer Reports 2010 best cars, which the Mazda 3 received an excellent rating. My only concern is gas mileage. I do about 50/50 city/highway and the car computer (neat feature) is averaging 25.5 miles per gallon. I fully understood the gas mileage expectations before purchase, but it would be nice to average 30 mpg.
17" alloy wheels w/Yokohama tires, bluetooth, handling, style/design (front grill), interior quality, sport cloth seating, front seats that "hug" your body, automatic w/option to sport shift, steering wheel controls.
Road noise, is noticeable, but expected for a car this size/class. Gas mileage at 30 mpg would be nice (city/highway); yes, it's rated to 29, but that's only if you drive complete highway.