I don't know how well the Mazda3's paint will hold up, but they at least seem to have improved their rust resistance, and reliability has been very good so far for the current generation.
The 2015 GTI also drives very well, and is considerably more powerful than the Mazda. VWs have improved in reliability to the point that the first four to six years are likely to be trouble-free. After that, maybe not. So it depends how long you'll be keeping the car.
Manual or automatic transmission? With a manual I might also suggest a Ford Focus or a Honda Civic Si. I don't trust the reliability of the automatic in the Ford, and the Si isn't offered with one. The Honda also isn't as stylish as the others. But it's fun and reliable.
If you haven't driven any of these cars, that's your next step. Go drive a few--I'd like to hear your impressions.