We tried shopping around a bit for ours, but out of the 25 or so available within 100 miles, only two were stick. We ended up going with the one that the local dealer had on the lot, as we were unlikely to have much luck beating the s-plan (corporate) price we were eligible for anyway.
Rumor on the Mazda247 forum is that the 08s won't even be offered with a stick. That's too bad IMO, as I doubt the 5 feels nearly as sporty without it, and obviously it suffers on fuel economy.
I was wondering if you have tried synthetic oil. My brother put synthetic oil in the entire drivetrain of his jeep and MPG went from 17 to 19. So I wonder what kind of gain you could get from a vehicle that is inherently more efficient
The more I drive the 5-speed, the more I realize it's hypermile potential. Just doing standard P&Gs yesterday around town, I was able to average just over 37 MPG primarily on streets with a 40mph limit. At 30 mph in 5th gear, it will cruise along with economy in the mid to upper 40's.
Unfortunately my wife won't take the same measures I do for fuel economy, so at the end of the average day with her driving it, 25-26 mpg is pretty normal. For a 6 passenger vehicle, we don't find that disappointing.