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I had thrown the 3 into the ultra-cheap car comparison simply because I owned a 91 323 my dad had since new and lasted til 233k when it got killed. My mom also had an 88 626 that lasted 240k (even going 10k between oil changes). I know they're quality cars and eventually got lucky with the Mazda incentives and the right car that dropped the payments into my range (equal to the Yaris sedan with similar features). I first looked at 3's on lunch break so no test drive, used 04 i Touring, 09 i Sport, and 08 hb.
Looked with my dad at extremely cheap first before figuring my extreme budget and tested the no option Versa 4dr. Pretty good car, but major complaint was seat bolstering was none. Then tried the Yaris hb since it seemed similar to the 323 I had. Nice car overall. Good features that came with packages. One I was impressed with was the 60/40 rear split that adjusted fore and aft. I was kinda set except for center guages and no cruise in the mid-atlantic region but still ready to take it. Then something my mom mentioned was to consider the 4dr since I'll probably have this car I bought when my fiance and I have kids after marriage. So went back to test the 4dr. Same problems as hb, better instrument lighting and slightly better seats. Then I went serious for the 3. Test drove the 3i Sport first then 08 hb back to back came. 09s were the only ones with Mazda incentives so the hatch was out. Kept looking then found Fitzgerald Annapolis with 3i Touring w low dealer installs. Fiance didn't like the red center cluster color or that she couldn't read my guages. But she liked the price with stuff Yaris didn't come with. We're both happy now and I've already got some mod ideas which is pissing her off :)
 
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