I don't stand on the "hate" side of the fence, but I'm not exactly ready to profess my love for the revised Mazda 3. I continue to think the new nose looks more like a Peugeot than an RX-8, and my inner Luddite continually screams: "but the old 3 wasn't broken!"
For the record, neither is this one. If you can get past the 3's new threads, you'll find much, if not all, of what made the first-generation car a hit. I cannot sing enough praise for this car's chassis, which remains sharp in corners yet compliant over broken asphalt. This 2.5-liter I-4 provides plenty of oomph, and the six-speed manual (a surprising rarity in this class) is silky smooth. The interior also offers a host of amenities that aren't typically found on a $22,000 hatchback, including leather seats, navigation, and a Bose surround-sound system.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer