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Discussion Starter #1
As a Mk2 Mazda3 owner I'm a bit concerned about the Mk3's new electric steering. Can those of you who've owned a Mk2 and recently bought a Mk3 comment on the difference in steering. the good and the bad.

Most of the auto magazine reviews are saying that the steering has less feedback compared to the older model's hydraulic setup.
 

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From various reviews and posts on here, I have heard that the electric power steering on the third gen isn't as nice (feedback wise) as the previous hydraulic, but it is one of the better feeling electric systems available today.
 

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2012 iGT to 2014 sGT steering

I went from a Mazda Mazda 3 2012 iGT sedan to the Mazda Mazda 3 2014 sGT 2.5 sedan and have to say the communicative feel of the steering seems to be largely gone (however compared to other electrical steering implementations that I have had experience with the Mazda 2014 does a good job). Some of this may be due to the stock tires though, I have yet to change them out for something better (I kept to the stock tires on the 2012 so the comparison is stock to stock).

That said I notice a lot less feedback from the car when steering. I notice it sometimes on mild curves and course corrections on the highway but I notice it the most when turning at intersections. Now I rely mostly on my own internal sense of balance and visual feedback instead of what I feel through the car when before I had a good sense of how the car was turning outside of all that.

The steering is not as good, but it could be a lot, lot worse. Adjusting to it did not take much time nor was it particularly bad but the change STILL does strike me from time to time.
 

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That's bad to hear. I've yet to test drive the car but the plan is to purchase one by year end. The other and more expensive option is a new WRX which though is also electric steering now. The 3 though is a much smarter option (MPG) and the WRX's interior is dated already.
 

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OK, I understand you guys are more comfortable with the old way of doing things. I heard the same gripes years ago when power steering started to be used. (Yes, I am that old). You want steering to be an effort (which is what "feedback" is all about). The fact is that this implementation of electric steering is quicker and more precise than your old way. Personally, I get just enough feedback to be happy. And I like the quicker response. You have to readjust your senses to this new reality. Once you do, (and with some it may take years), you'll be happier with it.

I came to this car from owning a Porsche without electric steering. No one can say a Porsche doesn't have precise and responsive steering. But I have to say, the steering on this new gen 3 has won me over. I like being able to move the car where I want it more quickly and more precisely than the old way.

You all know I've also made the case that this automatic is much better than the manual. The same argument is used there that you are in more "control" and "feel" the car more. It is exactly the same thing. From a technical point of view, the automatic is better and so is electric steering. But I'll never convince you guys of it because you are stuck in the past and will only come kicking and screaming into this new era of technology.

Lastly, before you all jump on me, I know this comes down to personal choice -- and I certainly respect that. It doesn't make any difference that these new technologies are better. If you are more comfortable with the old way, that's what you should get. Cars are for fun, enjoyment, and transportation. You should enjoy what you buy. After all, it's your money.
 
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The feedback under normal circumstances isn't all that bad, but it is muted compared to the Gen 2. My main complaint with the Gen 3 I drove was its annoying habit of trying to force-center the steering when hammering the gas mid-corner, as if it's either 1) over-compensating for torque steer or 2) trying to stay within the traction circle by reducing steering angle as you increase throttle. As a driver who relies heavily on steering precision and predictability I could probably get used to the Gen 3's behaviors, but the Gen 2 is way more analog and intuitive to pick up on the first drive.
 

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@color0

I'm not sure I really understand "muted". Once you get used to the lighter feel, you do really pick up the signals just fine. As for overcompensation for torque steer, I think that is baked into the new SkyActiv design and not a function of the type of steering. It took me a while to really get to like the steering on the gen 3 and I initially had the same "analog and intuitive" notions as you. Over time, those went away as I learned to drive the car.

With my last car, I was part of the Porsche club and went to a number of driver training, autocross, and some track events taking laps with experts. What I learned was that every car is different and you have to learn how to drive each of them differently. The experts even had to take a few laps in each car to learn how they were best handled. I would submit that the gen 3 drives differently than the gen 2, but once you learn how to drive it, it is every bit as good or perhaps better. You can't be heavy handed with the gen 3. It took a couple of months for me to get the approach right and feel comfortable with the car. And I had training on how to do it.
 

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Rationalizing a purchase as something you have to "get used to" is pretty weak. Why not pick the shoes that fit your feet today? If the Gen 2 suits your fancy, buy it. If the Gen 3 tickles you pink, buy that instead.
 

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Rationalizing a purchase as something you have to "get used to" is pretty weak. Why not pick the shoes that fit your feet today? If the Gen 2 suits your fancy, buy it. If the Gen 3 tickles you pink, buy that instead.
Totally disagree with your logic. You have to learn all new tech to get the most from it. I wasn't talking about getting used to something inferior as you seem to have taken it. I was talking about maximizing something you like. Please don't take the conversation out of context. If I were to take your statement out of context, I'd wonder why you would ever buy a new car. I take the attitude that you do your best research and then take the risk with the purchase. I like exploring new things. It's fun and it's a challenge. Too bad you don't.
 

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I think you're missing the point that the Gen 3's muted steering feedback IS inferior in the eyes of many. If you like it, then sure, get used to it and maximize it. Trying to acclimate to it despite one's personal preferences would be shooting oneself in the foot.

As far as taking risks on these cars goes... lol, you got me there. Tell me more.
 

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I think you're missing the point that the Gen 3's muted steering feedback IS inferior in the eyes of many. If you like it, then sure, get used to it and maximize it. Trying to acclimate to it despite one's personal preferences would be shooting oneself in the foot.

As far as taking risks on these cars goes... lol, you got me there. Tell me more.
Three axioms.... First of all, you ALWAYS take a risk when buying something new. You try to do your homework and research, but at the end of the day, there will be things you don't expect. Secondly, for the most part, newer versions are better than the older versions. The gen 3 will probably be better next year than this year and the gen 4 will probably be better than the gen 3. Certainly there will be exceptions, but for the most part, if products don't get better they won't sell. Lastly, people generally like what they are used to and rebel against something new.

I'm sure that you and others genuinely believe that manual transmissions are better than today's automatics and older hydraulic steering is better than today's electric steering. But from a technical standpoint, it just ain't true. There is a learning curve to anything new in order to get the most from it. I don't want to live in a world where I am stuck in the past. I want to learn and try new things. I like keeping an open mind.

So if I have to learn to handle a car differently to get the most out of it, so be it. That's one of the fun things in life. Someone once told me that if you don't learn something new every day, there is little reason to go on.
 

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Having you go on so righteously about trying new things is making my morning already, so I'll try to walk you through the hole in your argument civilly.

The Gen3 is in many respects a better car. Its chassis is noticeably stiffer and the lighter weight makes it a very good candidate for racing-oriented modification, even. Its EPAS no doubt offers better fuel economy and more fine-tuning potential than any hydraulic setup.

That doesn't mean the steering feel is better than the Gen2. EPAS has been notoriously difficult to tune to give drivers good road feedback, no matter if you're BMW, Porsche or Mazda. No matter how good and how precise the new systems are, the fact that you can barely feel the feedback at speed means that the engineers have not done their job. EPAS is not a finished product and buyers have every right to reject a car based on that problem alone.

Why you continue to defend your personal tastes bewilders the hell outta me, we already know where you stand and don't need to hear it again and again.
 

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Actually, it is YOU that is defending your personal tastes. I'm just saying it is better technology and reacts more quickly to input. I'm also saying this different technology requires you to modify how you drive a car to get the most out of it. This is true even if you just change cars to another brand. Are you really arguing with that? I'm also saying the "feel" issue is one of personal taste, not fact. You seem to think it is fact. As I've pointed out, the same is true of the new automatic transmission.

As far as my personal taste is concerned (which I have not addressed thus far), it depends on the car I drive. I was surprised at the quality of electric steering on this new Mazda, and after learning how to drive it properly (which does take time), I find going back to a gen 2 (which one of my friends has), is not even close. Unlike you, this is my first Mazda so driving a gen 2 for a short period of time is just like you driving a gen 3 for a short period of time.

If you are rejecting EPS because it is not up to par, then that is a false argument at this time. If you are rejecting it on personal taste, that's certainly fine. I will admit, just as with automatic transmissions, there was a time in the recent past that neither technology was up to the quality of the older versions. However, my argument is that we have reached the point, after years of development of both EPS and AT's, that those lines have crossed. Both technologies are fairly well developed at this juncture.

So you can continue to defend what you know and YOUR personal tastes, but I'm going with the best technologies and learning how to use them effectively.

Here's an article that may be of interest...

Electric vs. Hydraulic Steering: A Comprehensive Comparison Test - Feature - Car and Driver
 

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I had a MK2 as a rental for one week while my MK3 was in the shop. I preferred the steering of the MK2. Yes.
Yes, most people will prefer the older forms of steering because that is what they are used to. There will come a time, several years hence, when all steering is EPS, that the reverse will be true. You'll see comments that they drove an old car and the steering was too heavy. From the studies I've seen, people will say they prefer hydraulic steering but they will get better lap times and emergency handling from EPS. There will also come a time, when you'll be able to control the feel of the steering just as you can control the automatic transmission shift points today.

So there is a disparity between what is technically better and what people like. Since cars are not a small purchase, you should buy what you like even if it is inferior technology and performance. The problem is that people conflate these two propositions and think that if they like it better, it must actually be better. That just isn't true but people will rationalize that logic.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I often drive my 2005 Mr2 Spyder it has electric steering. The car has a coil over suspension, chassis braces etc. a mid-engine sports car, but I find the Mk2 Mazda3's steering has better feedback. Electric steering is faster, it's more precise but hydraulic beyond having better feel and more weight it's just more entertaining. I find myself creating minor driving line adjustments when driving the Mazda3 just to get the kickback from the chassis and steering.

I also owned a MK1 Mr2 many years ago and that car had manual steering. You get the true physics of steering the car. example you are going 50mph and want to turn on to a 60 degree turn you feel the car pulling towards a straight-line. It's nice, but you can't dial in the speed, precision of assisted steering. you can just do things faster.

I think electric steering will get better with time. It's just not there yet.
 

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I have a BM (Mk3) and am getting used to the steering after 4 weeks. My previous vehicle was a Toyota Prado!
Best steering car I ever had was an Alfetta GTV (116 series), closely followed by a Porsche 944S2. The Mazda 3 is quite OK but you have to think where you want the car to be rather than it just going there intuitively. Still very good and no complaints. The 2.5 doesn't have the grunt of the Porsche's 3 litre when launching from a start but it sure as hell is economical and that 6 speed auto is so good that I don't bother with the paddles. Cheers - John
 

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I've seen this argument all over the place, and ultimately it's a totally moot point. Unless you want to be stuck driving a 2012 or older vehicle for the rest of your life, electric assist steering is here to stay. You're going to have to get used to it sometime, so it might as well be now.
 
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