2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed Mazda3 New Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
We looked at a replacement for our '03 wrx wagon. List of must haves: boosted 4, room for the dog, sporty handling, good reliability, and not much over $20k. After a lot of research, it was the best decision even if we're not "in love". The '09 model WRX-GT isn't available yet and the present is a boring compared to our old one. The HHR SS was a player, but not as available on the lots and prices are higher because of it. Mini Cooper S looks dated and could be only worse in 5 years. The is the one left standing. See my likes and dislikes below, but it's a real shame that more manufacturers don't "get it" when it comes to fast efficient commuters. Upscale doesn't need to mean BIG.
2008.5 has great interior, great engine, pretty good looks with a surprising amount of room inside. Really the best bang for the buck out there.
The shifter needs work. The car wallows some in high speed maneuvers (hopefully Hotchkiss sway bars to alleviate that). The Electronic throttle blade doesn't do what I ask it to and smooth driving is harder to achieve. It hits a wall at 5800rpm due to the ecm pulling boost for warranty reasons.