Author Topic: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?  (Read 2446 times)

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Offline kiran_mk2

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Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« on: December 23, 2020, 08:23:18 PM »
Almost all reviews I read / watch on the current Mazda range highlight that the manual gearbox is a much better option than the automatic - and Mazda UK/Europe always send out manuals for the press reviews. Does anyone have an opinion on them? I know the Mazda manuals are highly regarded so it is that the auto is average and the manual is excellent or is the auto actually bad? The US reviews don't seem to comment about the auto box being bad. I'm aware that the auto box is a few MPG ess efficient and slower in acceleration (and an extra £2k new).

I've always driven a manual, but got used to an auto when I lived in the US for a year and thought my next car should be an auto. It also sounds more convenient as it supports stop/go in adaptive cruise control in the latest Mazdas.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2020, 09:55:12 PM »
The auto is apparently a relatively old-school feeling slushbox which compared to Dual clutch equipped rivals is less efficient and slower. Apparently the programming is not amazing good either...

However it mainly probably gets stick as the manual shift is one of the better ones available so you have the option of average to ok ish auto or faster, more efficient best in class manual for less money.

Offline hanix

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2020, 09:22:34 AM »
I have been driving the auto sport for a few years now and find it ideal for modern driving conditions, very relaxing. This question came up a year or so back with a friend of mine who has a newer manual version of the three, long story short, booting it from 30 mph he could not stay with me. I also own two manual vehicles by the way. (Wife's Fiesta and my L200 Mitsubishi.

Offline kiran_mk2

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2020, 08:31:19 PM »
Thanks for the replies so far. I'm leaning towards an fastback/saloon automatic GT Sport or GT Sport Tech ex-demo. I would value the lack of manual input in stop-start traffic and the stop-go nature of the adaptive cruise control. I'm not someone that revs to the red line ever so I suspect the auto shouldn't give any issues. However, with Covid and the various restrictions I might end up having to go with the manual just because I'm limited in how far afield I'm willing to travel to buy and manuals seems to outnumber autos by ~2:1 on the market at the moment.

Offline Engineer Andy

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2020, 02:02:14 PM »
Almost all reviews I read / watch on the current Mazda range highlight that the manual gearbox is a much better option than the automatic - and Mazda UK/Europe always send out manuals for the press reviews. Does anyone have an opinion on them? I know the Mazda manuals are highly regarded so it is that the auto is average and the manual is excellent or is the auto actually bad? The US reviews don't seem to comment about the auto box being bad. I'm aware that the auto box is a few MPG ess efficient and slower in acceleration (and an extra £2k new).

I've always driven a manual, but got used to an auto when I lived in the US for a year and thought my next car should be an auto. It also sounds more convenient as it supports stop/go in adaptive cruise control in the latest Mazdas.

I think that the problem with Mazda autos, if it should even be classed as one is that modern Mazdas, even the Skyactiv-X engine, aren't amongst the most powerful or greatest on raw acceleration compared to the plethora of small capacity, turbocharged engines most other makes now use in their cars.

The thing is that most people won't use full throttle very often and thus the use of the older-style (but very reliable and smooth gearchange) torque converter (TC) auto box means acceleration is about 5-10 behind that of manual and dual clutch gearboxes.  I test drove a CX-3 2.0 petrol auto about 4 years ago and it was fine in terms of pace, not amazing, just fine.  Very smooth and easy to use, especially in low speed traffic/on congested roads.  Fuss-free driving.

The 2.0 SA-X engine does give a performance boost over the 2.0 SA-G to compensate for the loss in acceleration over the manual, but obviously comes with a significant price bump.  It's a shame that the 2.5 SA-G and the turbocharged version which are/will be available in other markets like North America won't likely be making their way to our shores for the Mazda3 - the former is apparently just as quick as the 2.0 SA-X but it doesn't have to be ragged to make a decent progress.  I think it was because of the EU 'corporate CO2' limits/fines that the larger capacity SA-G engines don't feature in most European countries.

You are right about the availability of the autos compared to the manuals - the autos must be well liked as they seem, at my local dealership at least, to be sold (as second hand ex-demos and showroom cars) far quicker than the manuals.  The problem now is that many dealers appear to be charging potential customers for test drives, so you can't just hop into any olde Mazda3 auto to get a feel of the gearbox and then wait for the specific one you want to turn up at your local dealer, especially if travel further away to check out speific cars may not be available or wise (COVID restrictions-related or using a dealer a long way away [warranty or faults wise]).  The fastback will be much more difficult to source as they are less popular by virtue of their practicality of the boot opening.

You may be lucky though - I'd also keep an eye on car supermarkets websites (e.g. Motorpoint) for cars that dealers want to offload to recoup some of the money spent buying them from Mazda to keep their dealerships going - you may find some stonking deals in the coming months as the financial realities of the pandemic (many more job losses and people who now can't afford newer, quite expensive cars) mean there's oversupply and/or desperate dealers who'd rather take a loss on a car than not sell it for another 6-9 months and put their business at risk.

Offline kiran_mk2

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2021, 10:05:50 PM »
It's funny because the American reviewers love Mazda's automatic box - I've been watching some reviews on the Savage Geese YouTube channel and they sing it's praises.

Offline Engineer Andy

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 07:13:02 PM »
It's funny because the American reviewers love Mazda's automatic box - I've been watching some reviews on the Savage Geese YouTube channel and they sing it's praises.

That's because they value practicality over (just) performance.  A TC auto is far better when manouvering at slow speeds - in heavy traffic in particular.  The problem we have in Europe is that cars are designed or specific engined models released that are mpg and emissions-orientated, which means a TC box is not such a good fit on a naturally aspirated car like the Mazda3, at least the 2.0 SA-G compared to, say, a 1.5T petrol with similar power, but torque available at lower rpm.

The TC auto box gives about 10-20% igher CO2 emissions than a manual or DCT type unit, hence probably why Mazda don't mate it to the 3 with the 2.5 SA-G in the UK.

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Re: Why do reviewers dislike Mazda automatics?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 07:13:02 PM »