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Moderator, hope this is the right place to post my query. If not, please feel free to delete my first post and direct me to the right forum. Thanks.

My son was looking for a new Mazda 3 but ended up finding a really great deal on a 2012 hatchback touring with 2.5 liter engine. We live in the mountains at 5000 feet and driving his 3 around the mountain roads with the 3's driving dynamics was a revelation. My wife and I were not thinking of a new auto until 2 years from now when we have a lot more miles on our Prius and turbo Subaru but one of the local dealer has been very aggressive in pricing.

Two questions for this forum:

1. Transmission - Auto vs Manual.
I drove manual for 2 years while in grad school more than two decades ago. It was an old junker that I was grateful for. Full auto since then though I am mechanically adept in terms of coordinating shifts, corners, figuring out how to ease through a corner with minimal loss of speed etc. I keep reading that manual is the way to go for better driving control. However, these new Mazda automatics have paddle shifting. How is paddle shifting different from manual shifting - don't you get to control the gears it is in with both? Why is the manual still better for driving control?

2. Engine - 2.0 vs 2.5
We live in the mountains and do a lot of up and down trip. My turbo Subaru has plenty of kick and power. But my Prius is obviously quite leisurely. I live and am content with both. In mountains, I strive more for very smooth turns, cheating on the apex, and seeking to maintain momentum to conserve gas etc. It's actually quite 'fun' to focus on that.

So for mountains:
· Do I need a 2.5? Or do many live with 2.0 just fine?
· I am surprised to see published mpg for automatics in 2.0 and 2.5 to be virtually identical. Does this bear out in real life?
· For mountain climbing, anyone know if 2.0 gives better mileage than 2.5? (Sometimes, smaller engines strain more and give worse mileage….)
· For 2.5 engine, I’m surprised to see that manual provides a lot worse mpg than automatic. Car and Drive said they got 8 mpg less which I wonder if is accurate for similar driving.
· Does the 2.0 engine, being lighter, give better handling dynamics?
· Finally, has either 2.0 or 2.5 turned out to be more reliable or substantially more economical to maintain?

3. Sedan vs Hatchback - any real difference other than style, assuming similar trims? I realize that Sedan can be had in lower trim levels than hatchback apparently.

Thanks in advance for any help.

UL
 

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Moderator, hope this is the right place to post my query. If not, please feel free to delete my first post and direct me to the right forum. Thanks.

My son was looking for a new Mazda 3 but ended up finding a really great deal on a 2012 hatchback touring with 2.5 liter engine. We live in the mountains at 5000 feet and driving his 3 around the mountain roads with the 3's driving dynamics was a revelation. My wife and I were not thinking of a new auto until 2 years from now when we have a lot more miles on our Prius and turbo Subaru but one of the local dealer has been very aggressive in pricing.

Two questions for this forum:

1. Transmission - Auto vs Manual.
I drove manual for 2 years while in grad school more than two decades ago. It was an old junker that I was grateful for. Full auto since then though I am mechanically adept in terms of coordinating shifts, corners, figuring out how to ease through a corner with minimal loss of speed etc. I keep reading that manual is the way to go for better driving control. However, these new Mazda automatics have paddle shifting. How is paddle shifting different from manual shifting - don't you get to control the gears it is in with both? Why is the manual still better for driving control?

2. Engine - 2.0 vs 2.5
We live in the mountains and do a lot of up and down trip. My turbo Subaru has plenty of kick and power. But my Prius is obviously quite leisurely. I live and am content with both. In mountains, I strive more for very smooth turns, cheating on the apex, and seeking to maintain momentum to conserve gas etc. It's actually quite 'fun' to focus on that.

So for mountains:
· Do I need a 2.5? Or do many live with 2.0 just fine?
· I am surprised to see published mpg for automatics in 2.0 and 2.5 to be virtually identical. Does this bear out in real life?
· For mountain climbing, anyone know if 2.0 gives better mileage than 2.5? (Sometimes, smaller engines strain more and give worse mileage….)
· For 2.5 engine, I’m surprised to see that manual provides a lot worse mpg than automatic. Car and Drive said they got 8 mpg less which I wonder if is accurate for similar driving.
· Does the 2.0 engine, being lighter, give better handling dynamics?
· Finally, has either 2.0 or 2.5 turned out to be more reliable or substantially more economical to maintain?

3. Sedan vs Hatchback - any real difference other than style, assuming similar trims? I realize that Sedan can be had in lower trim levels than hatchback apparently.

Thanks in advance for any help.

UL
Assuming you're asking about the 2017+ Mazda 3's...

Auto vs. Manual is really up to you. I prefer Manual... all my cars are manual except my Outback- 6cyl didn't come manual... Yes you do get better driving control because you're in charge of gear changes and can manipulate the car with the clutch; it also make you feel more engaged in driving the car. That being said, I have no issues recommending a Mazda auto because I think they're the only manufacturer (in budget segment) that still offers a standard torque converter transmission instead of the garbage CVT's on almost every car on the road now.

Best way for you to find out what engine suits you best is to test drive both back to back.... Drive the 2.0 first, then 2.5; see which puts a bigger smile on your face. I prefer the 2.5; its cheaper to pay a little more for gas than to switch cars. The 2.5 does struggle a bit going up steep hills (San Francisco/ Seattle streets) and I usually have to downshift to a lower gear to keep the engine from bogging; not sure about the 2.0.

MPG is really up to how you drive... auto's usually get better mileage because they're tuned/geared for MPG where a stick shift is geared a little more aggressively but really up to how the driver shifts. That being said, I drive the crap out of my 17 2.5 3 with at least 3 redlines every day, and on-ramp sprints and I still get about 26mpg (worst tank was 21mpg). I did a 1000mi+ road trip with my 2015 2.5l 6 and got about 32mpg.

Sedan and hatch... I say hatch cause I have one. :D But again, it's up to you. Do you want/need extra "space"? Which one looks better to you? Is the extra ($1000? I think) worth it to you for the hatch?

Essentially, the decision is up to you. Spend time at the local dealer to sit, stare, and drive the car that appeals to you and see if it fits your driving style/life. Don't let the sales rep pressure you into paperwork after 5 minutes of sitting... if they do, find a different dealership or sales rep.
 

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1. Transmission - Auto vs Manual.
Manual is A LOT better for control, particularly in winter weather. Have driven paddle shifter rental cars. Big joke.

2. Engine - 2.0 vs 2.5
The 2.5 isn't so big that you don't have to shift down a cog or two on hills. It is a very smooth engine. Our does 34-35 mpg with my wife driving it mostly and doing a lot more stop and go than I do in my Miata, which gets almost identical mileage but near 400 # less weight and the 2.0 engine. I equate the 2.5 GT to a old 3 Bimmer; whereas, the Miata is more like our old 1983 Benz in its behavior (but with 100 more hp).

So for mountains:
· Do I need a 2.5? Or do many live with 2.0 just fine? You'll just need more shifting with the 2.0.
· I am surprised to see published mpg for automatics in 2.0 and 2.5 to be virtually identical. Does this bear out in real life? No, like up the mpg poll. You'll see 4 or 5 mpg less on the 2.5.
· For mountain climbing, anyone know if 2.0 gives better mileage than 2.5? Our 2.5 does 35-36 mpg going over the mountains west of us through WVa and on to Columbus, OH. Our VW TDI only did 40.
· For 2.5 engine, I’m surprised to see that manual provides a lot worse mpg than automatic. Car and Drive said they got 8 mpg less which I wonder if is accurate for similar driving. Depends on how you shift it. On the 2.5, you can shift to next gear at only 1750 rpm.
· Does the 2.0 engine, being lighter, give better handling dynamics? Probably not noticeable.
· Finally, has either 2.0 or 2.5 turned out to be more reliable or substantially more economical to maintain? Doubt there's any difference.

3. Sedan vs Hatchback - any real difference other than style, assuming similar trims? I realize that Sedan can be had in lower trim levels than hatchback apparently. I think the sedan looks a lot better than the hatch.

Ralph
 

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What chutoyy said is right on! I'll only comment on the transmission - I have the auto because of a bad hip, but I'm in manual mode almost all the time when driving in the mountains (which I love to do). The auto does just fine.

And I'm of course biased toward the hatch since I have one :smile2:
 

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Welcome ultralight!

Ah yes, the sedan vs. hatchback question... Here's a thread with over 300 posts that will be helpful. As for us, having the ability to take our big Belgium Terveren Shepherd everywhere, made that question very easy.

http://mazda3revolution.com/forums/...v-discussion/5539-survey-sedan-hatchback.html

Every one of our 53 vehicles are/have been a manual, so I am very biased.

And if you come from a vehicle with more power than the 2.0 or.5 (factoring in the weight adjustment), how much if you get the 2.0 will you wish you had instead gotten the 2.5? Best suggestion here, is to test drive both in the environment you will be driving in, and decide what is right for you. Note: There are thousands and thousands of posts on this forum with 2.0 owners considering/doing power increase mods to up its juice.

Happy choices, and then happy motoring!
 

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@chutoyy nailed it, i'm a manual driver to the bitter end but the fact is the autos have overtaken them for straight line performance and MPG - that said mountain driving would be one area where a manual would still be really handy as a practical matter.

I have the 2.5 - why not save money by getting the manual and put it towards the 2.5. It can sip gas if you want it to (35mpg easily attained on highway), but the grunt is there if you need it, and sounds like you will. I'm convinced the way 1st is geared in the manual, you could drive up a sheer cliff face if the tires would hold (it's like a granny gear)
 

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Moderator, hope this is the right place to post my query. If not, please feel free to delete my first post and direct me to the right forum. Thanks.

My son was looking for a new Mazda 3 but ended up finding a really great deal on a 2012 hatchback touring with 2.5 liter engine. We live in the mountains at 5000 feet and driving his 3 around the mountain roads with the 3's driving dynamics was a revelation. My wife and I were not thinking of a new auto until 2 years from now when we have a lot more miles on our Prius and turbo Subaru but one of the local dealer has been very aggressive in pricing.

Two questions for this forum:

1. Transmission - Auto vs Manual.
I drove manual for 2 years while in grad school more than two decades ago. It was an old junker that I was grateful for. Full auto since then though I am mechanically adept in terms of coordinating shifts, corners, figuring out how to ease through a corner with minimal loss of speed etc. I keep reading that manual is the way to go for better driving control. However, these new Mazda automatics have paddle shifting. How is paddle shifting different from manual shifting - don't you get to control the gears it is in with both? Why is the manual still better for driving control?

2. Engine - 2.0 vs 2.5
We live in the mountains and do a lot of up and down trip. My turbo Subaru has plenty of kick and power. But my Prius is obviously quite leisurely. I live and am content with both. In mountains, I strive more for very smooth turns, cheating on the apex, and seeking to maintain momentum to conserve gas etc. It's actually quite 'fun' to focus on that.

So for mountains:
· Do I need a 2.5? Or do many live with 2.0 just fine?
· I am surprised to see published mpg for automatics in 2.0 and 2.5 to be virtually identical. Does this bear out in real life?
· For mountain climbing, anyone know if 2.0 gives better mileage than 2.5? (Sometimes, smaller engines strain more and give worse mileage….)
· For 2.5 engine, I’m surprised to see that manual provides a lot worse mpg than automatic. Car and Drive said they got 8 mpg less which I wonder if is accurate for similar driving.
· Does the 2.0 engine, being lighter, give better handling dynamics?
· Finally, has either 2.0 or 2.5 turned out to be more reliable or substantially more economical to maintain?

3. Sedan vs Hatchback - any real difference other than style, assuming similar trims? I realize that Sedan can be had in lower trim levels than hatchback apparently.

Thanks in advance for any help.

UL
I also live in a hilly area, so perhaps my opinion is of some relevance to you. I drive about 230kms (145 miles or so) a day for my commute..and it's about 95% highway.

I got the manual but regret it. I've owned many manual cars, most recently a Civic Si and VW GTI and I find the 1st gear is very long so the shift to 2nd is a big drop in the rev range and really takes away from the whole "fun" experience. I enjoy driving it hard and find once you're up to speed, the manual is fine...but taking off from a stand still isn't fun in the least and the shift to second is brutal. One of the main reasons I purchased the manual was so the car wouldn't have to downshift on hills as I drive on my commute...but with more than one person in the car, I have to shift down to 5th on a few of the hills, which eliminates that main reason for getting the manual in the first place. Having driven the car for a year, I think an auto. would have been the better transmission for me.

I haven't driven the 2.0 but I find the 2.5 has a decent amount of torque so I would recommend the 2.5 as there isn't a big drop in fuel mileage. Plus, here in Canada...you can't get the 2.0 engine with the HID headlights, etc...which was a MUST for me when I was car shopping.

I purchased a sedan as I like the lines and look of the car better...I think it looks nicer than the hatch...but the hatch does have the nice dual exhaust tips that you can see, which I like (sedan hides the exhaust under the rear bumper cover). The utility of the hatch is something I would seriously consider if I were looking to get another 3.

I think a good test drive of both configurations is in order for you and then you can decide for yourself.
 

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Welcome, ultralight!

To answer your questions:

1. Test drive both engines, in both manual and automatic. The torque converter 6spd lets you lock out gears so it doesn’t shift up on its own once you hit redline, and it is quick enough on downshifts (but a little laggy on upshifts). It still gives you full control over which gear to choose, you just can’t skip gears like in a true manual.
The clutch on the manuals is a little too light on feel for me with the manual, but that’s just personal preference. The shifter is one of the best in the economy market.


2. Either one is fine for mountains. I personally have a 2.0 and I can maintain 60+ mph going around uphill sweepers in 4th when I want to go play. Again, test drive both, see which one you prefer.
Regarding mpg, I’ve seen an average of about 25-27 real world mpg city in the 2.0 if you can keep your foot out of it. Bury the pedal at every green light and you’ll see 21-23mpg tho. Expect a couple mpg less from the 2.5 motor.


3. Hatch for me, because practicality, but it’s up to you in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone for the informed comments.

One final question that I can think of for now: Are there threads on upping horsepower slightly with basic changes which does not impact the car's durability/maintenance? I could have done a lot with my Subaru to really up the power but we elect not to do anything drastic.

Thanks again everyone!
 

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Both manual and automatic gearboxes are excellent. I have the manual which has a very good gear shift. The manual is slightly higher geared giving lower rpm at a given speed and better economy.

I find the 2.0 fine for my needs but I rarely have more than one passenger and don't climb mountains. Note the petrol engines have an off putting chuffing noise when started from cold due to a special warm up cycle and the 2.0 engine can sound unrefined when pushed.

I only recommend the hatchback if you need to carry a bulky load with the rear seats down. Otherwise the sedan has a larger trunk space with the rear seats up and is a useful shape. The styling of the sedan looks much better in my opinion. However, the sedan is longer which may be an issue if you need to fit into tight parking spaces.

I'm please with ny 2017 Mazda 3 apart from road noise on the low profile 18" wheels on rougher roads. Be sure to test drive the car on rougher roads and ensure you are satisfied with the noise levels as the road noise is quite hard to suppress using sound insulation after purchase.
 

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2.5, manual, hatch. You will love it.
Try to find one made in Japan. I believe they are made there and in Mexico.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Thanks everyone for your helpful comments.

This is my final post here just to complete the circle for all of you who helped.

We made a purchased today of the most basic 2017 Mazda 3 Sedan with Auto.

Reasoning:
1. The thing that tipped us over was the price of $13,750 before tax and registration. We could drive it for 50K miles and sell it and still pay only 10 cents a mile depreciation on the vehicle. That's better than Prius value which is probably the lowest cost of maintenance for all vehicle in the US. It gets about 20% less gas mileage than Prius but does return with better drivability. The interesting thing is that going up mountains, I think it is actually as good or better mpg than the Prius - perhaps because it is lighter.

2. Sedan - The hatchback is clearly more handsome looking but in the end, even if they cost the same, my wife preferred the Sedan. the sedan has noticeably better rear visibility and a more usable trunk space for our needs. We tested by hauling an oversized suitcase and large cooler to the dealer for a test. The sedan's trunk was was 6 inches longer would allow us to carry longer cargo by folding the seats down if needed. It also fit the suitcase and cooler better. I'm surprised that on paper, the hatchback has 20 cubit feet vs sedan's 12 cubit feet. It sure does not feel like that.

3. 2.0. For 2.5 we would have to upgraded to touring and we actually preferred cloth seat which we would loose. But coming up the mountains, 2.0 was plenty and can easily exceed legal speed limit. That 2.0 seem to be getting 15% better mileage for some users was a plus. Perhaps I'm conditioned by owning a Prius but I do also have a turbo Subaru. I could use a little 'tail lip' on this though that the touring package has. This Sport model trunk just looks a little anemic...:)

4. Auto. My emotions wanted manual. My cerebral side knew an automatic was probably what we needed as my wife wasn't sure if she could learn the manual well. Well, that decision was made for us. There were no manuals when I called around. We were actually thinking of moving on this car next week but calling around realize that stock on 2017 was starting to get thin.

I am very tech savvy but do find the knob to control stuff very fiddly. Nothing like pure mechanical buttons for direct access. And yes, loosing that large tachometer from the previous generation is not an improvement.

I'll post newbie thread for advice separately but wanted to say THANKS to all for your help.
 

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Sounds like you made the right decision. I struggled with some similar issues when buying mine as well, I went with the sedan because my wife doesn't like hatches, I went with auto because my wife cant drive a stick and has no interest in doing so, also one of the reason s i got rid of my Focus ST. I have driven around 2k miles thus far on my M3 and love it, just did a drive to Miami and back for work which was about 350 miles each way (in 24hrs) and the car drove great, adaptive cruise worked well, and I never felt uncomfortable driving at all. Navigation worked well too. I think you and your wife will really enjoy your new car
 

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Sounds like you got an amazing deal! You can never go wrong with a price like that.

I have the manual GT hatch, and I love it, but there are times where I'm just tired of having to keep both hands free to change gears. I know this because when I drive my wife's auto, I very much enjoy the ease of driving. I think you made a prudent choice on the auto transmission! There is fun and there is practical, and since you and your wife will be driving it, practical wins ALWAYS. That auto is the right choice!

The volume numbers on the hatch vs the trunk are not even fair comparisons at all, because I think the hatch volume includes space all the way up to the window. Not sure, but I know this: I love the style of the hatch and the ability to carry something bulky, like a drumset, but for average use, that hatch won't carry as much stuff as a trunk (think groceries).

You'll get used to the knob once you get used to the UI layout.


So, everybody, I read someone say the auto transmission is torque converter and not CVT. Huh?
I thought the Mazda3 (skyactiv) auto was a CVT, and I'm pretty sure most CVTs do have a torque converter (not a clutch).
The CVT is one of the reasons I did not get the auto.
 
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