The MazdaSpeed3 is a fun car to drive, but some people dislike the amount of torque steer (pull to one side while accelerating). My main issues with the car are aesthetic, especially the interior styling. It's only offered with a manual transmission.
The new Mazda3 isn't nearly as torquey, but is a very good car in other respects. The larger engine is currently only offered with an automatic--which transmission do you prefer?
The Ford Focus and Focus ST are also worth a look. The latter's repair frequency is higher because the original motor mounts permitted too much engine movement under hard acceleration. Some people also find the MyFord Touch interface hard to use, though software updates have helped.
The Lexus CT costs a lot more, has a very tight back seat, and doesn't perform as well. It's hard to make a case for one unless you put a high priority on its more luxurious interior.