2011 Mazda MAZDA3 i Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5A)
I am downsizing from a Mazda CX-9 and it could not be any more painless. This car is a blast to drive. I'm amazed how quick it is with the 2.0 motor and automatic. This motor has enough low end torque and the transmission is so well calibrated that it feels eager in all situations. I did test drive the Focus and while it does handle well, the transmission shifted too soon and masked that engine's extra power.
I was able to get the 3 at invoice price which was much cheaper than the Focus similarly equipped. The cabin is on the small side but I'm short and the car seats fit, so I consider it "just right". This car is serving as a commuter/2nd car and so far it's exceeded my expectations.
I love the great handling of this car. All the control responses are just right: tight communcative steering, solid brake feel, and good ergonomics. This car feels more solid than a typical compact car.
The cabin is a little on the cramped side but acceptable for my needs. The interior plastics on the dash could use a bit of an upgrade, but could be worse. The carpet is also on the cheap side.