2014 Mazda 3: Getting the Bigger Engine With a Manual Transmission
September 26, 2014
Back in June of this year I wrote about the 2014 Mazda 3, "If you're a driving enthusiast...you might be bummed out that Mazda doesn't offer a manual transmission with this engine. It's a six-speed automatic or nothing."
Well, Mazda's people must have read my update (or, more accurately, were already on the case) and made changes to address the issue. For 2015, Mazda's letting you pick the six-speed manual transmission with the 3i trim level's 2.0-liter four-cylinder and the 3s trim level's 2.5-liter engine.
Now the question is: Which one to get?
Going with the manual transmission is arguably less desirable than it used to be because the six-speed automatic is already so good and sporty. As I wrote in that previous update, the automatic is responsive, quick shifting, has shift paddles and even blips the throttle when you're doing manual mode downshifts. You also get better EPA-rated fuel economy: 31 mpg combined (hatchback) versus 29 mpg combined with the manual transmission.
So what will the manual provide? The Mazda 3 in the 3s trim level is already the driver's car of the small economy car segment, and getting it with the manual will only improve that. An automatic can never provide the tactile enjoyment you get by working the clutch and shifter, and Mazda has traditionally done this well. With the manual, the 3 will likely be quicker in our 0-to-60 mph acceleration tests by a few tenths of a second, too.
I know of at least one Edmunds employee who's going to be buying a 2015 Mazda 3 and he wants to get the 3s with the manual transmission for exactly these reasons. Yet going with the automatic isn't any less desirable in my opinion. I suppose the best news is that now you get the choice for 2015.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive @ 14,610 miles