I have a couple of mates with these (one had WRX previously and felt it was inferior in everything (including reliability) but performance).Well, we went test driving and drove two Subaru WRX's and a Maxda 3 MPS.
We bought the MPS. Its a mint late 2011 model in pearl white with 14,600 km on the clock. Came with cargo mat, MPS floor mats, dark tints and that thin transparent film to protect against stone chips. Leather, sat nav, cruise control, dual zone climate control and Bose audio.
Went to the next dealer where we found the MPS. Test drove it for an hour. Was easy to drive, 6 speed gearbox felt better than the WRX's 5 speed, easy light clutch. Felt pretty solid with no rattles or noises. I provoked the infamous torque steer a few times, and to be honest, its only really an issue when you are really up it. Around town its very docile and drives probably just like any other Mazda 3. When its on boost that's a completely different story. Power delivery is pretty savage but that's what makes it fun I reckon. It felt slower than the WRX (which it is anyway) but is sufficient for a daily commuter. The wife had no issues with it. It did surprise her how the power delivery comes on strong when on boost but she said 'ah as long as I hang onto the steering wheel I should be right'.
They respond exceptionally well to a suspension upgrade. One of my mates had Bilsteins and slightly stiffer springs (Centreline in Melbourne), actually improves the ride and traction, helps tame the torque steer (to a degree) as well.