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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm thinking about getting a 2011 Mazda 3 GT in a few months and I was wondering if it is a good car to learn to drive a manual transmission on. I'm a 20 year old male who has been driving an automatic since I got my license. I want to get a new car, but I'm not sure if I should give MT a try or just stick with automatic. I know someone willing to teach me, but I don't think they want to let me practice in their car :/. What do you guys think?

Thanks,
Derek
 

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Silver Demon
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I did exactly that......learned stick on my 2010 MS3 and I'm glad I took that decision. Go for it, but expect to be frustrated at first as there are easier cars to learn on.....eg. Hondas, Nissans, Toyotas
 

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While I fully condone (and recommend) buying a manual Mazda3, I don't think it is the best car to learn on.

It is an awesome car to drive, but the things that I tell people to feel for when I teach them to drive stick don't really exist on the Mazda clutch. It is very vague and gives you almost no feedback as to what it is doing. The first step in learning to drive stick is to sit in a parking lot in 1st gear, let the clutch out slowly until you feel it start to grab, then push it back down. You repeat this several times until your leg starts to get a feel for where the friction zone is. And like I said, with the Mazda clutch, you can't really feel the clutch grabbing.

Learning can be done on it - you just have to rely on feeling the car beginning to move forward rather than feeling the clutch engaging through your foot/leg. If you have no other way to learn stick, then definitely learn on the mazda, but if you can find another way, I would recommend learning on something else.

Final word of advice, don't get frustrated and give up! Not everyone learns at the same rate, but you will get it. Good luck with you purchase!

Once you start driving a manual, you will probably never want to drive an automatic ever again.
Amen!
 

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I'm with StitcH on this. Typically, when learning a new clutch, I do exactly what he describes. I let off a few times feeling for the engage point. On most manuals I've driven, this point in the clutch is precise. However, on my 3s, you can't feel the engage point at all. The is literally no feedback to the engage point. For the first few weeks I had the car, I even heard a weird sound when engaging the clutch. I eventually learned that I was releasing at the wrong point and was actually riding the clutch a bit. This is coming from someone who been driving manuals for 15 years. Even my dad, who's driven manuals for 40+ years, stalled my car twice on his first drive, simply b/c he couldn't feel the clutch. That said, my father in law who owns a manual jetta (I've always loved VW gearboxes, btw) loved the feel of my Mazda clutch. He loved how smooth it felt. So back to the question...I think many of us who have driven manuals for years can adapt pretty quickly once we know the engage point. It will just be tougher to learn, but still should be doable. You should definitely see if you can get some drivers time in one of your friends cars in a parking lot somewhere. It's not like you're going to do catastrophic damage by stalling a couple times.
 

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Slow poke
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Driving the mazda3 manual is different than other cars I've driven. It seems that distance the clutch pedal moves from totally disengaged to fully engaged is very small. On my jetta, it's very forgiving and engages more gradual.

That being said, I would highly recommend the manual transmission to anybody. I can only speak for the 2.5L engine, but it is very torquey and difficult to stall. I had a 1.6L Civic and you really had to feed it some revs to avoid stalling in 1st. You will be able to drive stick in no time flat! However, getting smooth shifts takes time and practice in any car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the encouragement guys! It looks like a fun car to drive.
 

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Andrew
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I'm 18 and learned stick with my mazda 3. I've had my car for 5k miles, and just recently I have consistently gotten very smooth shifts. The only problem I still sometimes have is the notchy shift from 1st to 2nd, which seems to be common on the 2010.

It is kind of difficult to learn. It took me a few days before I was comfortable driving uphill in the city. But just keep at it, and you will pick it up fine.
 

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There are two sides to this....


For learning for the first time I would recommend any Volkswagen. I had an '03 Golf and '06 Jetta and they are by far the easiest car to learn and drive. I have driven stick for 10+ years ('96 Acura Integra, '91 Toyota Pickup, '99 Dodge Neon, '03 VW Golf, '06 VW Jetta and '10 Mazda) and of all of them the Mazda and Acura are the ones that require the most finesse to drive smoothly and not stall.

Since you know you are getting a Mazda 3 manual:I think it would be good to learn on the 3. My thinking is that if you learn on an easy car you will get frustrated when you move over to the 3. Just be warned you are going to be putting some wear and tear on your clutch.


Welcome to the manual world - learn it, love it and spread the word. It is quite an exclusive club that has benefits that outweigh any negatives. Once you master the art you won't ever want an auto again (well until you get too old to operate the clutch). On top of all that you save $$$ by not going auto and can get screaming deals on manuals that have sat on the lot so long because 90+% of people cannot drive stick. <---I picked up a fully loaded '10 Grand Touring sedan for 3k+ under sticker, it had sat on a dealer lot for 7 months and not 1 person test drove it.
 

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My buddy learned stick on a 2010 MS3. I actually drove it home from the dealership for him. I wouldn't say it's the ideal car to learn on, as you've got quite a few factors going against you but I can say that getting a pair of very thin sole shoes does help give you more pedal control and feeling. Stuff like Puma Speed Cats or some Piloti Prototipos will work fine. Smooth shifting and minimal clutch wear is knowing about engage points, knowing about rev matching, and knowing what to do in different driving scenarios (up hill, downhill, inching up parking spaces, spirited take offs, heel toe downshifting turns, etc). There's no real shortcut to experience- you'll stall, jerk it, over rev the engine and all that. The only damage you'll do is wear the clutch out a bit prematurely, so that's your incentive to learn to do it proper as soon as possible.

Something people will probably tell you if someone's teaching you is to not ride the clutch. When I was 15 and learning manual, I thought this meant don't push the clutch all the way in. It actually means don't keep your foot pressing the clutch partially and letting it sit at the engage point. Once you're engaged, get your foot off the clutch and moderate the gas pedal so the rpm rises smoothly. When in doubt and fear of stalling, you can always push the clutch to the floor and disengage the engine/transmission, but try not to make a habit out of coasting around like this.

I haven't driven a manual Mazda 3, but I can feel the engage point on the MS3 clutch. It's subtle, but you've gotta be ready for that bite that's about to occur and follow it up with adequate gas.
 

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I taught myself stick during NYC rush hour driving home from New Jersey in my brand new S hatchback....do it, it's not that bad...the only manual car I had driven previously was an Audi A4 for about 10 min.
 

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Poser :)
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Taught my wife how to drive stick for the first time on my 2011 MS3 shortly after I brought it home. Killed me to watch her stall the first few times, but 15 minutes into it she was shifting in and out of 1st and 2nd smoothly in the local college parking lot...I was confident enough that later that day I let her out alone. I just kept reminding myself that we have insurance and that kept me pretty sane while she was out..

Drove a stick on a previous vehicle for 6 years. Never thought about it but what you all are saying about not being able to "feel the engaging point" is totally true.. didn’t really realize it until after I read these posts. It's totally different than any other ride I've driven and it definitely makes it more difficult. All the torque to the front wheel doesn’t help with getting out of 1st correctly either..

Funny story - the 1st dealership I went to told me they don’t let people test drive the MS3.. Reason being that they've had multiple folks come in and grind gears or mishandle the torque, etc.. I was like "Who buys a car without test driving it first dude?”.. INCREADABLE.. Needless to say I drove down to the next Mazda dealership 20 minutes away - test drove it - and have been happy as hell since. Punks missed on out that deal!

Anyways like they say it's not ideal, but it's possible - good luck with it!
 

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Black Mica
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You should learn how to drive a manual before you make that kind of commitment to get a manual. You might not like it later. If you work out/excercise alot, like playing basketball or jogging, your knees will be appreciated you bought an automatic. If you insist getting a manual, don't expect you can drive it home after a car salesman giving you a quick 15 minutes lesson on how to drive a manual. This's reality, not playing on Xbox 360. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I taught myself stick during NYC rush hour driving home from New Jersey in my brand new S hatchback....do it, it's not that bad...the only manual car I had driven previously was an Audi A4 for about 10 min.
Wow that sounds stressful!

You should learn how to drive a manual before you make that kind of commitment to get a manual. You might not like it later. If you work out/excercise alot, like playing basketball or jogging, your knees will be appreciated you bought an automatic. If you insist getting a manual, don't expect you can drive it home after a car salesman giving you a quick 15 minutes lesson on how to drive a manual. This's reality, not playing on Xbox 360. Good luck.
I agree, I hope to find someone who will let me learn on their car first. I don't work out or exercise a lot. I'm definitely not expecting to be able to drive it home myself, I'd probably have my friend do it, or wait until I get decent at stick.

Thanks for all the replies guys, I really appreciate it!
 

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I've driven on a lancer and the older mazda 3 (that's where i learned the basics)
I got myself a 2010 mazda 3 GT. I remember stalling quite often, but after a while it gets better =).
JOIN US AND GET IT =)
I don't regret at all.
I love my car =)
 

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i actually did that last july... It is my first MT car... no one was willing to teach me so i just bought it and went to youtube for how to drive a MT... and after a month and a half I got it all down and i have been rev-matching since... :) i just drove a honda & a toyota both MT two weeks ago and it was was easier to feel the clutch engagement... but all and all, the MZ3 is an awesome car... its worth every $$$... you might think im saying this because i have one, but even my brother with a Subie WRX thinks its awesome for an NA car... best of luck... cheers!
 

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Another thing to keep in mind when learning is that you may want to disengage the DSC. I often set that off when taking off fast in 1st gear. If I spin the tires at all in 1st or shifting to 2nd, the engine will cut power when the DSC engages. It's really annoying when you're trying to get out into traffic quickly. I'm not sure if it's a product of the low end torque in first gear or the crappy tires that come on the car, or a combo of both. Either way, I typically disengage it when I'm pulling out into traffic.
 

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Silver Demon
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Ditto on the VW clutches....I test drove a new GTI and I don't think you could even stall that car if you tried. Also...in agreeance with catchphrase......learn barefoot!! Actually, whenever I can, I take my shoes off when driving......you get so much more feel for the clutch...night and day difference. I'm gonna have to look into those shoes he recommended.
 

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The only problem I still sometimes have is the notchy shift from 1st to 2nd, which seems to be common on the 2010.
Start giving the car some gas after you shift into 2nd and before letting out the clutch...an inch of gas pedal travel should be enough.....that'll solve your problem.
 
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