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Don't know what you mean by a "kick" but I find it almost impossible to get a smooth gear change between 1st and 2nd on my manual mazda 3. Some people rave about Mazda transmissions, but they're no better or worse than any other car I've driven, certainly not as slick as our honda.

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Truth, Honda makes awesome Manual transmissions. Mazda's automatic is actually just an improved standard hydro automatic setup which has already long been proven as reliable. Hence the reason very few folks have major issues with them. I've seen a few bad solenoids around the forums, but that's really been it.
 

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I have the Mazda 15 2.5l auto with paddle shifts. I face the same jerk from 1-2 if I don't let the car warm up. I also thought since the weather is warming up I don't need to but apparently it's better to wait for the engine to warm up. Now I usually wait until the rmp is down and I hear an audible difference in engine noise.

The manual says there is no need to wait for the car to warm up. Which is misleading. Such jerks are bad for the transmission.
 
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