Recently purchased Mazda 3 hatchback with 2.5 liter engine and 6 spd manual transmission. After 1000 miles of local use, we took a 4000 mile driving vacation through the Rockies and Arizona/Utah. For two people, the cargo capacity of the hatch was great. The car performed flawlessly, with plenty of power in the mountains, and easy cruising at 75+ mph on the freeways. Our average mpg over 4000 miles was 29.5, most miles at freeway cruise. Handling was crisp and confident in the mountains, and comfort was very good on long driving days. Plenty of power and speed in freeway passing situations. The more that I drive this car, the more I like it.
2.5 engine has plenty of power, and is smooth and quiet at 3000+ rpm freeway cruising speeds. The car's style makes a statement, and I think that the smiling front end is destined to be a classic, like the famous Austin Sprite. Handling is superb. Fuel economy is good for such a quick car.
The Yokohama Avid tires are performance rated, and handle great. You will hear more road noise, though, especially on rough pavement. I'm not sure that a quieter tire would give the performance that the Yokohamas do.