2008 Mazda MAZDASPEED MAZDA3 New Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I was leaning toward getting a Lexus IS 250 or an Audi 4 when on a whim I stopped by a Mazda dealership. I drove an RX-8, which I loved, but I live in Colorado and it's really not a practical winter car. So a friend suggested I try the Speed3. This thing is an absolute blast to drive. Performance-wise, it's very comparable to a BMW 328 -- it's impossible to tell it's a front-wheel drive car. You can go 80 in third if you want, you can take curves at 60 with no sway at all, or you can drive it sedately and still get a fun drive and pretty decent gas mileage. Plus it seats four adults very comfortably, and of course the hatch is convenient for hauling stuff. Great car at a great price.
Engine, transmission, steering, brakes, styling, Bose sound system (note: the sound system had to fixed on all 2008 1/2 GT models -- make sure they've made the repair on the one you're buying or you'll have to take it in to get it replaced.
Really nothing except it's annoying they put a sound system that didn't work into the new GTs -- required taking the car to the dealership twice to get it replaced: once to figure out what precise replacement it needed, and once for an hour to make the switch. Other than that, awesome car.