I was looking for a smallish car around the $15k mark, either brand new or second hand. After many months I chose a MY13 Mazda 3 SP25 Auto Hatchback, finished in Sky Blue.
It's a great little car, and it gives a lot for the money - I ended up paying $15,000 for it. First impressions are that it's very much a tourer rather than a city car. On the open road it's really good - quiet and comfortable, long-legged and with plenty in reserve to keep rolling along. Around town it's good as well, although fuel consumption gets a little high. It's nippy enough if you want and fairly easy to park. A flat driver's side mirror and lack of reversing camera slightly hinder parking, but for an "old schooler" like me, it's no biggie.
The tech is okay. The built-in sat-nav works fine but is a little clunky to use, and Bluetooth phone & audio streaming work well. The boot's fine for a weekly grocery shop or weekend getaway/airport pickup, and the Bose system works pretty well. The standard tilt/slide electric sunroof is a nice feature, too.
Leather upholstery is soft but durable; the front seats are comfy and supportive on long trips, the seat base is long enough to give good under-thigh support and the seat back is high enough to give good shoulder support. I only wish the driver's seat would go lower! I'm 5-foot 10, so I'm not exactly tall, but it's not a biggie. Still, that's my only complaint about the drivers position, as everything else seems good.
I bought the car at 66,000km, with a full Mazda dealer service history, and it's obviously been well looked after. Tyres fitted at purchase were Bridgestone Adrenaline RE003, and holy smokes they're good, both in the dry and wet. No squeal, just grip and go!
I've done nearly 20,000km since November 2018, so it's almost ready for the second service under my ownership. The first service was at a Mazda dealer, and not too badly priced so I'll probably book it in there again for the next service. I'll probably keep this for another couple of years, maybe more, depends on how it holds up. So far, so good. It's a nice car, well built and gets down the highway nicely.
NOTE: With no imagery supplied, we've used a photo from the CarAdvice archives – albeit of the 2012 Mazda3 Neo.