My Mazda was a college gift from my parents bought in great condition. I learned stick in this car and it was very smooth. The gas mileage was also great, and being a college commuter who drives 60miles a day to and from school, the gas was quite cheap. Got in one accident with a deer that completely demolished the car costing around three grand to fix (fix enough to pass inspection that is). The a/c has broken, check engine light is very flighty, had many pipe clogs, brakes failed... all within six months of purchase.
Good handling in snow, gas mileage, good handling when weaving through traffic, great amount of room up front and in the back seat
Car fell apart could have been going before purchased (but not likely), quite flimsy exterior, not particularly fast