This is a GREAT car. In the last 5 years I have owned a NSX, a Miata (NA), an S2000, an RX8, and then this Mazdaspeed. On a pure driving experience, the Mazdaspeed rates highest of the cars I have owned. No, its not the fastest, but it's the most fun. It handles really well and communicates really well with the driver. You can drive the car at 99% of its limit, and it tells you exactly where it is. The other cars I mentioned before have much higher performance limits, but don't communicate nearly as well as the Miata. $5000 in aftermarket parts will put this little car in the 300hp range and embarrass cars costing 3 times as much.
Cheap, reliable, fun. Highly upgradeable. Great handling. Race track ready. Up to 30 mpg if driven lightly. 24 mpg if driven aggressively, 18mpg on the racetrack!
Higher gear ratios, more comfortable leather seats with less padding, 7500 rpm vs 6500 rpm.