Recently, I decided that my 1999 Mercedes C230 was a little to old to be considered reliable anymore, so my husband and I went looking for another car that was affordable, good on gas, and attractive to look at. We decided on the Mazda3S based on reviews, and also the recommendations of people we know who own the Mazda3. We bought the Mazda3S about three weeks ago, and although we were unhappy to trade in our Mercedes, we decided to keep an open mind and not compare the new car's performance to the Mercedes.
The Mazda3S is quite a stylish car--four doors and an attractive body style that is sporty, but also practical. The backseat is kind of narrow, and although the seats do go down, they don't provide much room for our two large dogs. The front seats are also narrow, but there is ample room to sit comfortably.
The Mazda3S performs very well. The car feels very lightweight, so when I am driving, I am able to zip around better than I could in my Mercedes. The Mazda3S also has some power--when I step on the gas it will go, but it's definitely not super fast. When you are driving the car, you can also switch from automatic transmission to manual. There isn't a clutch, but you can shift gears which is kind of fun.
One issue I had with the car was the gas mileage it got. Judging by the size of the Mazda3S, one would think that it gets phenomenal gas mileage. However, I was disappointed to see that it only gets 22 city and 29 highway. Granted, it is better than an SUV, but it's hardly great for a smaller car.
Overall, I am satisfied with my Mazda3S. It's no Mercedes, but for someone looking for a stylish car under $20, 000, it's a great deal.