Previous to owning this I had a '06 Mazda 3s 5-door that I picked up in August of '05. I loved that car; the handling was great, acceleration was more than adequate, styling, IMHO, far and away the best in its class. But when the opportunity presented itself to get a Speed3, I jumped at it. This is a ridiculously well-engineered car for the money. I ended up with a Cosmic Blue GT (6-disc changer, Xenon, Bose System, etc.). The turbo kicks in around around 3K RPM and just hang on when it does. What really impresses me about this car is how docile it is around town. Easy to drive and very relaxed until you drop your right foot. Then it's on. Very happy with this one...it's a keeper.
263 HP with a 6-speed manual. Upgraded suspension. New front end.
Shifter is a little vague...but I have had far worse over the last twenty years.