Here I am, learning how to drive a car all over again. Since manual transmission is standard on the Mazda 3 S 5-door, I shouldn't be surprised that my test car has the same. It's been a long time since my dad first taught me how to drive and during that time, I never needed to learn to drive a stick because, like taxis in New York, automatic transmissions are everywhere. Why would I need to learn to drive a stick?

Here I am, many years later, being taught by my oh-so-patient father how to drive a manual transmission. After a quick lesson and few trips on my own, I begin to get excited by driving a car that can "vroom, vroom, vroom." I can't say it is a flawless driving experience but I can say for sure I probably would have wanted this car when I was in high school. It's fun, it's hip and it's perfect for the teenager in me.

However, I can't say I would want this car today. Although it outshines other compact cars with more luxury features like standard Sirius radio and optional navigation system, there's something about this car that makes me feel like I am clinging to my youth.

The trendy color schemes for the Mazda 3 S are paired so that the exterior and interior themes complement each other. For example, I am sporting the lava-orange exterior color which means the only option for my interior is black cloth with lava-orange specs or black leather.

With other options like spoilers and aero flares (part of the Appearance Package for $650), rear skirt diffusers ($220) and door edge guards ($80) it is evident that I can "pimp" this ride. Certainly NOT something important to me as a mom but probably something I would have been excited about back in the day when appearances were everything and having a cool car was a means to popularity.

Did I mention that the cigarette lighter and illuminated ash tray are standard features? The mom in me wants to know if she can trade in these features for a lip gloss keeper and a place to put my cell phone. Unfortunately, the storage bins are lacking a bit. While there are two cupholders in the front console and one in each of the four doors, this car doesn't fulfill my storage-bin fetish.

I do, however, have to give credit to the Mazda designers for creating the largest glove compartment space I've seen. It's so vast. Hello in there.... echo, echo, echo. OK, it's not THAT big but it is large enough to store a laptop, tons of CDs and maybe even a small army.

The cargo area, when the seats are folded down, is plentiful. I envision a college-bound student packing a lot of dorm room necessities and getting it all there in one trip. I am just happy I can get my weekly load of groceries in without smothering my son.

So there it is. Not every car in the world can be the quintessential mom-mobile. I guess it's only fair for auto manufacturers to build cars for all walks of life, from teen to the golden years. The Mazda 3 seems to be doing just that: focusing on youth.

*for more information on the Mazda 3 S 5-door and its safety features visit Note that crash test results quoted below are for the Mazda 3 4-door.

Let's Talk Numbers LATCH connectors: 2 Passenger seating (including driver): 5

It's the Little Things That Count Storage Compartments (puny, fair, ample, galore): puny Cargo/Trunk Space (puny, fair, ample, galore): ample

Sense and Style Family Friendly (not really, fair, great, excellent): fair Fun-Factor (none, some, good times, groove-on): some good times