THE BUZZ: Trapped inside this budget-friendly hatchback is a 155-mph racer screaming to get out. Mazda tuned the suspension, steering, and transmission to handle the turbocharged, 263-hp engine's thrust, producing a nimble sport compact that can also haul skis and bikes.
THE TEST: Blasting over 11,500-foot Colorado mountain passes was a snap, while the fuel-sipping four-cylinder engine returned a shocking 30 mpg, despite being driven hard and fast over 150 miles with 12,000 feet of climbing.
THE VERDICT: If you're heavy on cargo but light on budget and secretly lust for a Porsche this is your rig. From $23,200; mpg, 18 city/25 hwy; mazdausa.com