Car is going strong at 95,000 miles. Only repairs done to date are new door lock actuators, the radio/CD player, and recently replaced EGR valve. Gas mileage is great for an automatic, between 30 and 35 MPG. I even averaged 40 MPG once. My only complaints are the small engine and placement of rearview mirror which obstructs vision.
Definitely the great gas mileage and sporty handling.
I got a great deal on this car at end of year. I wanted every option available. I log lots of highway miles due to commute. This car is a hoot to drive. I put better tires on it and it handles beautifully. I perform all scheduled maintenance on time and have had no issue except for the ABS brakes. The last time I had them replaced about 10k miles ago, the dealer didn't even do a test drive. I started to drive off the lot and the noise and grabbing was unbearable. Lost another day without it until they fixed the issue.
Moonroof, handling capability, trunk space and fold down rear seat for carrying.
Improve noise reduction at highER speeds (not saying that I go over the speed limit!), better brakes.
The only maintenance I have had to have on this vehicle were a recall and routine maintenance. The recall was an oxygen sensor on the emissions system, and before that was replaced, I had to take it in a lot. However, it was covered under the warranty. The Mazda CD player has a mind of it's own, though and is very finicky about what it plays.
Overdrive button, good pickup and acceleration for small car, large trunk, nice head and leg room for a tall person, when the doors are unlocked by keyless entry, the interior light comes on.
This amazing car has survived a major ($7k) deer attack when it (my Protege) was just a few months old, a crappy dealer that forgot to replace the oil cap so had 100 miles of driving with no oil, and still -- at 80k I have only replaced tires and brakes. The car handles like a true sports car. I still surprise other drivers, and is comfortable and just unbelievably reliable.
Looks, performance, incredibly reliable, and safe -- we had a major collision and the nose took the entire brunt. Absolutely no intrusion into the passenger area.
better gas mpg (but not at the expense of that beloved zoom zoom power) and better sound insulation