2004 to 2020 Mazda 3 Forum and Mazdaspeed 3 Forums banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
************************************************************************************************
*************** PLEASE DON"T TURN THIS INTO ANOTHER BASHING AUTOMATICS THREAD *******************
************************************************************************************************

I just wanted to start a discussion about the automatic transmission in the Mazda 3, specifically the GT with the 2.5L engine and paddle shifters. I am not sure if there is already a thread about this or not but here is my input for thought.

First of all let me start out by saying that the 2018 Mazda3 GT that I bought in July is the FIRST automatic transmission car that I have owned. I learned how to drive on a stick before many of the forum members where born. I have been driving manual transmissions for 23 years. I swore I would never purchase an automatic and faced criticism from my wife every time I would buy another car (she won't drive stick). I would never know what to do with my left foot when I would drove her car, I would shut the engine off while the car was still in drive or press the gas too hard forcing it to drop a gear and rev the engine unexpectedly. Other stick drivers know what I am talking about. In the spring I had a bad accident on my mountain bike where I ended up braking my right elbow (radius head), L5 lower back vertebrae, and the pubic bone in my pelvis. Needless to say, driving a manual became a torture. I had even rented an automatic car for 2 weeks so I could get around during my initial recuperation. A few weeks after that my car (2013 Elantra GT) got totaled in an accident and I was on the market for a new car. I decided to at least test drive a couple of automatic cars to keep my wife happy.

I took the 2.5 Mazda3 GT premium trim for a ride and I loved it. After owning the car for a couple of months now, I have discovered a few things about the automatic transmission that I think are pretty cool. Don't get me wrong I love manual and sometimes wonder if I made the right decision or not. There is 5 different modes that the transmission can be driven.

1. DRIVE "D".
This is what 99% of people do when they drive their automatic and offers comfort, ease of operation, and fuel economy. In simple drive, the Mazda offers a far better experience than every other automatic that I have driven in my life. It just seems to know when it should shift and seems more in touch with what the driver expects it to do.

2. SPORT mode.
Sport mode does exactly what it implies, it offers a more sporty response to the throttle and keeps the RPM in an optimal range for a sporty feel. When cruising around town at a constant speed, it will tend to stay in a 1 gear lower (higher RPM) than it would in DRIVE and it will not hesitate to drop 1 more additional gear with light throttle pressure. It will even drop 2 gears in an instant if needed, when the DRIVE mode would have required fully pressing the peddle. The other thing that I have noticed with SPORT mode is that if you drop a gear or two to accelerate, it will hold that lower gear (higher RPM) for a while anticipating that you may press the throttle again, also this can help in cornering or going downhill.

3. PADDLE SHIFTERS while in DRIVE/SPORT mode.
Having the paddle shifters right behind the steering wheel makes it very easy to force the car to down shift whenever you want without the need to put the transmission in MANUAL mode or press the throttle hard. You can do this in anticipation of a corner where higher RPM would be ideal, or while approaching a red light you can downshift just like a manual to save on brakes (and give yourself the feeling that you are still in control), or while going down an incline by putting in a lower gear you avoid riding the brakes all the way down the hill. Last but not least, just by quickly dropping a gear you can of course accelerate faster when needed without waiting for the transmissions to decide when to shift for you. I have not noticed much difference between using the paddle shifters as an override while in regular DRIVE vs. SPORT other than the fact that SPORT is sportier in respect to DRIVE.

4. MANUAL MODE .
There are 2 ways to drive MANUAL mode in the GT where you either use the hand shifter to upshift and downshift, or use the paddle shifters, to do the same thing. While in manual mode whether you use the paddle shifters or hand shifter, there is no difference what so ever. If you bring the car to higher RPM it will still upshift for you to the next gear even if you do not select the next gear. Also if you are at a lower RPM and press the gas peddle all the way to the floor, it will still drop to a lower gear for you, so this is not TRUE MANUAL mode. The car will still shift for you when it thinks it is necessary. That can be a little annoying if you are looking for a true manual experience (for a true manual experience get a manual car with a clutch). For most cases when you want to feel like you have more control of the engine/car this is an ideal way to drive (and burn more gas). But what if you want even more control? That's where the 5th mode of driving comes to play. I just discovered this a few days ago.

5. MANUAL mode with TRACTION CONTROL OFF.
This one came as a big surprise to me. When you turn off the traction control and drive the car in MANUAL mode it behaves very differently than if it’s on. When traction control is turned off the transmission will not upshift for you when you hit high RPM, instead you will hit the rev limiter. It will also not downshift when the press the peddle all the way to the floor. This is TRUE MANUAL mode as far as automatics are concerned. It could be better though, it could have a dual clutch automatic which eliminates the torque converter lag and has much crisper and sharper shifts. I considered a different car that did have a dual clutch transmission but preferred the overall drive feel of the Mazda3 more, over the Elantra GT Sport 1.6T. If you leave it in a higher gear and slow down like when approaching a red light, it will still downshift all the way to first gear, this is only to stop you from trying to accelerate from a dead stop in 5th gear. When you are at a stop it will only allow you to take off in 1st or 2nd. I also noticed that there doesn't seem to be a difference whether the transmission is in SPORT mode or not when you are in MANUAL mode as it appears that the SPORT only effects the way it shifts gears while in DRIVE mode.

My conclusion to all of this rambling is that it can still be fun to drive an automatic, but it's much more fun if you have paddle shifters and SPORT mode. If you want a truly more sporty manual feel turn off your TRACTION CONTROL. BTW the switch is to the left side of your steering wheel for left hand drive cars. If you made it to the end of this I hope I enlightened you a little.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
900 Posts
Yes you definitely have choices when driving an Auto. I usually just leave it in drive, and on occasion sport mode. I only use the paddles to downshift in an effort to pass. I hardely ever use the manual mode.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
I'll drive the car in "Sport" on occasion but with it in "D." The response time when you "shift" in manual mode is annoyingly slow even with "Sport" mode turned on, and the "Sport" mode is pretty intuitive (downshifts while braking, which is definitely the first time I've seen that in an Auto and pretty neat) and probably faster if you let it do the shifting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'll drive the car in "Sport" on occasion but with it in "D." The response time when you "shift" in manual mode is annoyingly slow even with "Sport" mode turned on, and the "Sport" mode is pretty intuitive (downshifts while braking, which is definitely the first time I've seen that in an Auto and pretty neat) and probably faster if you let it do the shifting.
I have experimented a bit trying to compare the difference in fuel economy with Sport mode either on or off while in drive and I can't find much difference. It all depends on how you drive it really.

I own 2 Mazda3's, 2018 GT Sport and 2015 GS Sedan with the 2.0L. I was always impressed with the fuel economy that my wife's car gets. When purchasing mine I compared the difference between the 2.0 and the 2.5 and according to Mazda website they basically get the same fuel economy with the 2.5L getting 1 or 2 points worse. In reality I am noticing that the 2.5 gets a lot worse than the 2.0. In ideal perfect conditions they are very similar, but as soon as you press the peddle a little on the 2.5, you can kiss all your economy down the drain. And I am not talking about driving the crap out of it either, like never going above 4000 rpm or even 3500 rpm. If you stomp on the peddle a few times it gets real bad. I have noticed that smaller engines like 1.5 - 1.8 have less of an impact on fuel consumption by driving them hard. I used to have a Toyota Yaris with 1.6L and I whether I drove the snot out of it, or drove it like a granny, it always got the same amount of kilometers out of a tank of gas.
 

·
Too Many Projects!
Joined
·
368 Posts
I get bored and run Sport Manual mode with TCS turned off every so often. I like to feel like I have raw control over the car when I want to have fun. Otherwise, just slap it in Drive and go.

But then again I grew up driving vehicles that didn't have TCS, or even ABS in some measures. A/C in Texas heat? Forget about it. :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
583 Posts
Today's automatics because of computers are quicker to 60 and quarter miles than manuals were of yesteryear and that isn't something to overlook either. I live in NYC so I'm in sport mode a lot with my 2.5 GT Hatch as a lot of quick merging is required. The 20K miles on my 2017 are predominately long trip hwy miles obviously in drive mode. However, as mentioned below, I also get nothing close to the advertised EPA estimates...I tend to drive faster on the hwy and will keep to speed where necessary as not to mess up traffic. I once got 36.5 on a half a tank driving up 95 and recently got 35.5 from Hagersville MD to NY, but those are the exceptions...I'm usually lucky to get to 33 or bit over on the hwy and if I do happen to do a tank in the city then I'm right around 18 max.

Thus far very happy with my car as I don't have any of the issues reported. The did several very subtle fixes and upgrades on the 2017, along with the well advertised. I'm also beginning to believe the Japan builds may have few issues as well, but only from what I have read anecdotally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
182 Posts
I have experimented a bit trying to compare the difference in fuel economy with Sport mode either on or off while in drive and I can't find much difference. It all depends on how you drive it really.

I own 2 Mazda3's, 2018 GT Sport and 2015 GS Sedan with the 2.0L. I was always impressed with the fuel economy that my wife's car gets. When purchasing mine I compared the difference between the 2.0 and the 2.5 and according to Mazda website they basically get the same fuel economy with the 2.5L getting 1 or 2 points worse. In reality I am noticing that the 2.5 gets a lot worse than the 2.0. In ideal perfect conditions they are very similar, but as soon as you press the peddle a little on the 2.5, you can kiss all your economy down the drain. And I am not talking about driving the crap out of it either, like never going above 4000 rpm or even 3500 rpm. If you stomp on the peddle a few times it gets real bad. I have noticed that smaller engines like 1.5 - 1.8 have less of an impact on fuel consumption by driving them hard. I used to have a Toyota Yaris with 1.6L and I whether I drove the snot out of it, or drove it like a granny, it always got the same amount of kilometers out of a tank of gas.
I experience the same with mpg. I was hoping to get 40 highway and 28-30 in my commute but in reality i am getting the same as the 2003 accord i replaced. At least i have a better looking, more practical, better stereo, better handling, and 25 more hp.
Today's automatics because of computers are quicker to 60 and quarter miles than manuals were of yesteryear and that isn't something to overlook either. I live in NYC so I'm in sport mode a lot with my 2.5 GT Hatch as a lot of quick merging is required. The 20K miles on my 2017 are predominately long trip hwy miles obviously in drive mode. However, as mentioned below, I also get nothing close to the advertised EPA estimates...I tend to drive faster on the hwy and will keep to speed where necessary as not to mess up traffic. I once got 36.5 on a half a tank driving up 95 and recently got 35.5 from Hagersville MD to NY, but those are the exceptions...I'm usually lucky to get to 33 or bit over on the hwy and if I do happen to do a tank in the city then I'm right around 18 max.

Thus far very happy with my car as I don't have any of the issues reported. The did several very subtle fixes and upgrades on the 2017, along with the well advertised. I'm also beginning to believe the Japan builds may have few issues as well, but only from what I have read anecdotally.
I found out quickly driving in NY you need to use sport mode to merge in heavy traffic unless you wait for a big gap or anticipate a gap and press the throttle early. The standard setting is just to sluggish to get over. I turn it off once i get into my travel lane as it keeps revs to high when you don't neee them
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top