2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Another Take On The Shifter And Pedals
December 10, 2009
There's been a bit of disagreement about our Mazdaspeed 3's manual transmission. Erin first wrote how she felt that "the shifter's gates are well defined and there's solid, positive feel as you move between gates." She said she also thought the pedal placement was ideal for heel-toe downshifting.
A couple days later, though, James wrote that he disagreed, noting the he was not enamored with the shifter. He wrote: "[It] could feel more mechanical and direct." He also thought the clutch was difficult to consistently modulate smoothly.
Then a week later Ed wrote that he found the pedal spacing to be a bit off, noting: "The gas pedal is a little far away to make a simple roll of the foot work."
It's an editor dust-up! Seriously, though, I've been driving the MS3 for more than a week straight now, which makes me, if not uniquely qualified, then at least passably certified to weigh in on this subject.
Shifter: James wrote: "Frankly, it's hard to believe the Miata's and Speed3's shifters come from the same company -- they couldn't feel any [more] different." A fun hyperbole, for sure, but the MS3's shifter is still pretty good in my opinion. True, its throws are not exceptionally short, but there's still an overall solidity to it that I find pleasing. I don't need (or want) every car to have a shifter like a Miata's.
As an aside, when shifting from second to third or from third to fourth, the shifter will occasionally make a low-decibel sound (in addition to the normal gear-shift sounds) that I can only describe as "rubbery metallic." If you've ever watched the new Battlestar Galactica, there's a sound effect the show uses for when a pilot pushes the fire button for his (or her) Viper's guns. The MS3's sound is kinda like that. I don't know if the shifter is supposed to sound like this, but it's kinda cool nevertheless.
Pedal placement: I'd side side with Erin on this. I haven't had any problems here with heel-toe downshifts.
Clutch: I second James here in that I do find it tricky to modulate when starting out in first gear. The initially soft throttle response doesn't help matters.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor