I bought my 2004 glacier silver metallic 5-door (V6, 5-speed manual) in December '04 and have put nearly 3,000 miles on it. This is my first Mazda (previous VW Golf owner) and I'm really happy with the car so far - excellent handling and performance. Test drove several other Japanese makes and the Mazda drove and handled closest to a German or European automobile. Unlike some other reviewers who reported poor mileage, I've been averaging a very decent 27.5 mpg (70 percent highway, 30 percent city driving). Major options on my car: side impact air bags, sunroof, Bose sound system. There is very little I don't like about it. This car is a 'sleeper'! Zoom, zoom! :-)
Foremost I like the handling and exterior styling - it doesn't drive or look like all the Accords, Camrys and Malibus out there. I also like the 5- door hatchback design and loads of cargo space. I also like the V6 power (previous vehicle was a 4-cylinder) and availability of a manual transmission.
Electronic throttle control can be touchy just off idle, making smooth starts from standstill a bit tough with the manual transmission. Climate control fan is a bit noisy and crude-sounding at low speeds. Front seat bottoms could be longer, and the rear seat lacks adequate headroom for 6+ footers.