My parents have a Mazda 3 and my dad was trying to convince me on getting that car or going with Mazda Miata. Also I see quite a few Mazda 3's on the road in my area.
I reckon it would be between Mazda 3 and BMW 1 series. Both are more geared towards sporty drive than luxury that you find with the A class.
Obviously best to just test drive all 3 and make your decision. Good to be in your shoes. Being in the market for a new car is so exciting.
This is my baby: (So far just added: HR lowering springs, aftermarket 18 inch wheels, muffler + secondary cat delete and fitted aftermarket resonator, and those are aftermarket LED tail lights). I want to add some window tints next week.