I bought my Mazda3 hatch for work related purpose after considering all the opposition........the Mazda reputation, resale potential and the zoom zoom bit won over. Initial feelings were that it had great turn-in and braking ability, but that the manual gearbox variant had had little development...the clutch take up point somewhat variable and the engagement zone was wide, the 2nd gear synchro was inadequate and allied to the habit of the engine hanging-up in the rev range made for jerky commuter progress.
At the first service at the dealership where I purchased this issue was raised and the old chestnut of "I've driven heaps of these and they are all like it" didn't go down too well, I've not been back to that dealer & I've just learned to deal with it. What is so hard in allowing an engine to settle quickly back to idle in manual vehicles? Yeah I know it's about exhaust emissions but geez it's annoying.
This is the 21st Century. The driveline sometimes shunts like an old EA Falcon multi-point injection manual due to this lack of refinement. The overall gearing is too short for a 6 speed - 100kph or so sees the tacho hover around 2800rpm.
So far the car has done 122,000k absolutely trouble free, the original tyres were swapped at 118,00 and the original brakes are still going strong.
Fuel consumption has averaged around 7.8l/100k which has been very pleasing.
The least liked aspect of the car has been the lack of Bluetooth connectivity.
The car has been used in all environments, tight underground shopping centre carparks, urban commuting, freeways and horrible country roads - all have been dealt with admirably. BUT....I can't wait for the weekend where I drive my Ford Falcon and revel in it's ability to soak up road imperfections that would have the Mazda bucking around.....it is tiring after a while.