I read a lot of tepid & dismissive reviews before I purchase the Matrix S. I've driven many of the cars recommended as alternatives. I think the problem is perception. The look of the Matrix is a bit sportier than its performance. But the gap between its main contender, the Fit, is even greater. If you accept that no one really cares what you drive, so don't rely on your car to define your personality, what you get in the Matrix is Balance. I think this balance is what confounds the automag pros. A little sporty, a lot practical, amazingly reliable. Design is Clean & Simple, Driving is Balanced & Poised. Quick & smooth without being completely lifeless. A sport hatch for the pragmatic.
I like the ground effects. The AC vents are great, a small detail but I detest vents that won't aim or stay put. I love the AutoStick. My wife can drive auto, and I can shift. Shifting works best 'clean'; rev it, get off the gas, shift up, hit the gas. It's nice to flip into 'D' if my cell rings.
I love the clear Gauges and lack of buttons on the steering wheel. The controls are clean & simple. A little more color on the console would be nice. Maybe red rings around AC controls that match the Opitron gauges. That would make the interior pop a bit more.