Traded in my 2007 MS3 for a 2012 w/ tech package. Even though many shun from the new "smiley" look, the added features of the tech package will make you overlook the car's questionable design. Even though the older MS3 felt more aggressive, the new one has longer 1st and 2nd gears with a lot less torque steer. Gas mileage stays the same (19-21 city; ~30 hwy). Road noise is somewhat loud but tolerable. Nav screen is too small and more difficult to use compared to the nav in the older models. The hood scoop looks amazing and gives the car that POWER look. This car definitely gets a lot of looks, more than the older model for sure.
I traded in my 04 Mazda 3 5-dr for this. I test drove it, drove it home. Everyone at the dealership was mad because they didn't get a chance to drive it before it got sold. lol The clutch takes a little getting used to as it catches very early. Also ride is a little harsher than my 3, but i attribute that to 18" lower profile tires and better suspension. I take turns going twice what i did in my old car. Stock tires are only summers so make sure you get a set of winter tires(+seperate wheels, it will save you money in the long run) if you live anywhere that gets anything more than a flurry. The bluetooth is great, good stereo. Torque steer is not that bad. Overall, would buy it again.
Cross shopped WRX, Ralliart, GTI. None offer as much equipment for the money. I've deemed third gear the yellow light gear as its the one to go to in order to blast from 35 ish to 65 or so. Merging is a joke, even in Philly where no one moves over (I'm a burgher), simply engage the yellow light gear and go. Constant 75 mph on Pa turnpike for 300 miles yields 28 mpg as calculated at the pump. Even in sixth you easily pass any car with vigor. Exhaust is very quiet at highway speeds. Seats are comfortable but if you're anything other than slim to medium weight (I'm 5'10 and 175 on a fat day) they will most likely be to form fitting for you. Overall, very pleased with the purchase
Just got my MS3 in black, I've put on a heftier rear motor/transmission mount and a heftier rear sway bar (for autocross), Strange sensation to have all that power and control (particularly with the mods) and for such a low price, the dealers can't sell them because of the manual transmission, I kid you not, I test drove one that had a dead battery, it was sitting in a back lot, covered in dust, surrounded by mazda3 automatics, quite forlorn, but I got a really great price on the car! An amazing driver's car, simply fun and well sorted. Couldn't recommend it more. You'll run out of courage before this car runs out of a capability.
I had been doing research for a year and a half for my next car. I was going to choose one of the following three; VW GTI, Subaru WRX, MS3. I test drove each and everyone of them they all were great, but the MS3 truely stood above the rest. Power, Performance, Comfort, options standard, looks (the grill you get over shortly). I currently have 1500 miles on it and have loved every minute of it. Not a big fan of the city MPG, but it was defenately something to I expected, but what was unexpected was the great HWY MPG. I recently did a drive from Las Vegas to Phoenix which was roughly 400 miles. Did with only using 3/4 of the tank which gave me a whopping 32 MPG.