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The differences in trim are really personal decisions and come down to that, as you can see by everyone's answer. There are a few things that can be considered objectively though: the nav is crap, and the smart key system is pure win.

I have the GT with both packages and despise the nav (take a look at the nav thread to read why) but I really wanted the smart key system so it just comes with it. IMO, my favorite feature of the car is the key system. Only time I ever reach for my key is to tkae it out for the day when I'm home. Otherwise you just press the button on the door handle to unlock, press the start button to turn over the engine, and walk away from the car to lock. HUGE convenience and if you think about the thing you do the most with the car, it's entering/exiting, and turning it on to drive it.

GL with the purchase and welcome to the forum.
 

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My vote is for the GT. If you drive at night a lot, the AFS is great. Dual climate control is nice to have with a passenger, & heated seats will be nice for NY winters. The automatic headlights are nice to have, though I wish they came on sooner, or had an option for always on while turning off with the ignition (I think I'm in the minority here though). I prefer the leather as well, though you're not losing much in that sense with Mazda's cloth seats either. As many others on here have said, your best bet is to try them both, but I say the GT is definitely worth the extra money. Also, don't worry about the extra weight. If performance is that much of a concern, the Speed should be the only trim you consider.
 

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I'm very happy with my Mazda 3 S. As I stated before, my decision was between the 3i Touring and the 3s. The improvments the 3 S has makes a big difference. For me the 17 inch rims with larger brakes, sportier seats with upgraded trim, the 2.5 and the six speed manual make the 3s feel like an entirley different car than the 3i. You'll pay for it with a few less miles to the gallon but I still get 24 in mixed driving and the 2.5 3s is still and EPA Smart Choice. It's also nice the 3i and 3S/GT run on 87 octane versus 91 for the Civic SI and Speed

If you go for the GT you'll also benefit from the features plus the leather, AFS, power seats, etc. in the GT.
 

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Go with the GT and skip the bose and tech package, just get aftermarket GPS dash, alarm/remote start and you're good!

A friend of mine got his Mazda 3 after seeing my GT, he decided to go with the lower trim and spent way more money to upgrade to leather, HID lights, etc... He regret doing that after all the advice he got from me... He was like " I didn't know I'm missing so many features by not choosing the GT.." Lesson learned...
 

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I bought the sport, I wanted the performance of the Mazda and didn't give a crap about the extra features..just more stuff to break down the line!
 
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