The Mazda 3 Hatchback is a good choice because it's reliable, has a great manual transmission (like a Miata), has great handling (close to a Miata), is fuel efficient, and is made by a company that likes to make fun cars. It has either 155 hp 2.0 in the base Sport model or 184 hp in the Touring 2.5 and Grand Touring 2.5 models. The Touring with the 2.0 liter doesn't come in a manual, but everything else does.
The Mazda 3 Sedan is available in every trim with a manual. Only the Grand Touring has the 2.5 liter in the sedan. I just prefer the Hatch because it's more functional, but I've heard the visibility is worse in the Hatch. Fully optioned without the dumb appearance package, the Hatch comes out to $27,600 and $27,000 for the Sedan.
The 3 only comes with a regular sized sunroof, no panoramic.