Transmission in the 2015 Mazda6 manual makes us want to hug a Mazda executive
The 2015 Mazda6 6-speed manual is an unusual vehicle. As the segment slowly continues its evolution toward not just automatics, but constantly-variable transmissions, Mazda and Honda alone are holding out hope to those that want a manual transmission in a sporty and attractive sedan.
Mazda’s two sedans, the Mazda3 and the Mazda6 both offer manual transmissions. Those who want to use three pedals can get an excellent stick-shift in either. However, the Mazda3 is limited. Only its smaller, and less powerful engine can have the stick. We tested the Mazda3 and we loved it. However, it was a bit low on torque and we wondered what the more powerful engine might feel like with a stick. Now we know.
Mazda was kind enough to provide us with a test vehicle with the manual transmission only about 5-8% of buyers will opt for. Having driven hundreds of cars with stick shifts, and having owned manual Integras, Supras, Civic SIs, and best of all, a current generation Mazda Miata, with stick shifts, I consider myself well qualified to say this one is excellent.
Mazda Manuals Shine
Pedal placement in the 2015 Mazda6 is good. I don’t usually heel-toe test cars, but this model would allow for that. The clutch is very good. Frankly, I thought that all clutches were good in this more modern time, but then a 2014 Fiat 500 proved me wrong. In the Mazda6 the clutch starts to engage about an inch off the floor and then engages through its uptake all the way to about the 80% mark. Perfect.
The shifter itself is well placed in the 2015 Mazda6. In the Mazda3 I felt like I had to lean forward a bit to engage 5th. In the Mazda6 my arm was comfortably able to reach all the gears with my seat where I like it. The movement from first to second is smooth, and unless you hurry it, the shifter never transmits any bad feelings to you. Rush it, and it does feel a little notchy, as all cars do. Even when very rushed the synchros do their job and the car is never harsh to shift.
2015 Mazda6 Engine Matches the 6-Speed Perfectly
The 2015 Mazda6’s 4-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque is a good match to the manual 6-speed. It provides enough torque at low RPMs to allow the car to roll slowly in second gear through corners, and then pull the car into traffic so you won’t need to stop completely and engage first (unless it is required by law). Every stick driver knows what I mean. The Mazda3 really didn’t have enough torque for that with its smaller engine.
Gear spacing is smart. Mazda didn’t make first too short, and even in sixth on the highway one can accelerate adequately to keep up with traffic on hills. I didn’t find any use for 5th gear though. Mostly I used fourth on back roads up to about 40 mph and when merging onto the highway, and then when I was moving at a steady pace shifted 4 to 6.
Mazda Saves the Manuals
Mazda offers the 2015 Mazda6 with the stick shift in its two first trim levels called Sport and Touring. The fully loaded Mazda6s, called Grand Touring models, only come with the automatic. So you actually pay less to have the stick. There is a small fuel economy price to be paid according to the EPA ratings, but this car is simply amazing on gas anyway, so that will not deter anyone who wants to row their own gears.
Although very few buyers want stick shifts these days in affordable mid-size sedans, Mazda and the few automakers still offering them are providing we buyers with a last link to automotive nirvana, and it is appreciated.
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