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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My last car was my 1st automatic, my first 4 cars having been manuals... and I still kind of miss using a stick for many types of driving. The manuals definitely got to be a pita in gridlock rush hour traffic though. On top of that my wife can not / will not drive a manual and we do switch cars depending on our needs, so a manual just didn't fit the bill for us now. Enter the 6 GT. The paddles on my new GT were not a must have for me but since they came with the rest of what I wanted I was curious to see how I'd like them.

My thoughts so far...

0. I'll start by stating up front that I did not expect the paddles to be "the same" experience as a stick - I was simply curious to see how I'd feel about them by comparison.

1. I'm really not inclined to use them for city driving - or any driving where there may be sharp turning involved. If the steering wheel needs to be turned enough for me to move my hands on the wheel, oops - hand's not where the paddle is anymore! Heck, where is that paddle right now - I need it! (There is even the risk of absent mindedly pulling the downshift paddle when it's where the upshift paddle normally is...) With a real stick at least the shifter isn't a moving target. I know, Formula 1 drivers have paddle-type shifters in their cars now too, but the turning ratio on those cars is much tighter.

2. Timing: with a stick I release the clutch at the moment I want the gear to engage, which gives me a feeling of precise control over the powertrain. With the paddles... well there may still be an adaptation period for me, because my mind logically is inclined to pull the paddle at the moment I want the next gear to engage. To have the same feeling I'll have to condition myself to anticipate the 1/4 or 1/2 second (or whatever it is) that it takes to shift, and pull the paddle earlier.

3. Time-out: you don't have the option of coasting for a bit between gears with the clutch depressed if you so wish. I know, logically you probably shouldn't need to do that and I'm hard-pressed to recall an example of a moment where it would have been a real advantage to. Still it somehow feels like another element of powertrain control that is absent from the paddle experience. Actually perhaps one example at least (and it ties into #1 and #2 above): in moderate to hard cornering - with a stick you could shift into whatever gear you want to exit the turn in before cranking the wheel and just let your left foot decide when to engage... that's not always how you'd do it (usually exit the turn in the same gear you arrive in) but at least the option was there.

4. Even after 13 years of not driving a manual, when I'm controlling the gears via the paddles I find my left foot is flopping around looking for something to do. You never forget how to ride a bicycle, as the saying goes... My left foot not having a job to do even tends to make me forget I still need to shift the gears... until the rpms get rowdy enough to remind me.

5. Last but definitely not least, the automatic transmission on this car is just so slick and responsive, and even holds a gear for you under acceleration if you want it to (unlike many newer cars), that there usually doesn't seem to be much advantage for me of switching to the paddles.

Bottom line: the paddles (for me) are just a gimmick; one that doesn't offend me because I don't "have" to use it and the automatic is so good. I'll play with the paddles from time to time but really don't need 'em and probably wouldn't miss 'em.

For those of you who have them, what are your impressions? All views & experiences welcome! Don't let my initial impressions deter you - I'd actually like to hear from people who love them (and why).
 

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I use it for the following:

When in drive and when descending down a steeper grade (I have some long ones around here) I click it back from 6th to 4th to maintain 55-60mph speed down the grade to prevent riding the brakes.

When on the interstate I can leave the car in manual mode to prevent any unwanted downshifts.

When on the interstate I can use it in manual mode and paddle back one or two gears to prevent over-downshifts on full-throttle passes.

When enjoying a curvy road and wanting to stay in gear so I can get on/off the throttle without any lag or gear hunting.

Enjoying a 2nd gear start from a stoplight in icy conditions, works wonders.

All of these things cannot be controlled by a simple automatic "D" choice. Although most of the time I leave mine in "D" and enjoy the drive, there are times like above where having a bit more control can be wonderfully helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Ok, those are indeed good practical examples - thanks for chiming in! I'll keep those uses for them in mind. I suppose a Tiptronic type shifter could more or less accomplish those things too though. (I believe the base and Touring trim levels have those?)
 

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Agreed with you both but @eyedocorlando definitely shares the same points I do.

I use them when I want to engine brake when coming to a long stop or when I need to quickly stop and don't want to slam on the brakes.

I use them in traffic on the highway EVERY time. I've driven stick my entire life, this is my first auto and the first time I was in a stopped lane on the highway and had to quickly get going in another one, but the auto took that split second to realize what I wanted, my heart sank and I thought it was over. With the paddles/manual mode, the car gives you the power instantly when you ask for it.

I live in one of the snowiest cities in the country - I love manual mode during winter months.

I actually think the Miata steering wheel nailed the shifters on the head. They have both an up paddle and down button on either side of the wheel: this way, you can be using a single hand on either side fo the wheel and control both up and down, rather than a single side designated to up and the other to down. I find when I'm cruising around in the city that it would be far more convenient if I had both on the same side, but in those cases I just use the actual shifter with my right hand.
 

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They're a bit of a novelty...

Mine never see any action.
 

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Just remember all,,,, when you use the paddles you car will not upshift at redline!
You will need to pull the +/Off lever at around 5800 RPM not to bounce off the rev limiter.
 

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Nice write-up cobwebs.

I use the paddles for the same reason as Byakuya, for highway driving and spirited driving. Otherwise, the automatic is very good in rgeular city driving situations. Props to Mazda.
 

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This is my first auto after driving manuals since the mid-90's and I don't use them often, but I do use them...

Mostly for occasional spirited driving when I feel like it (the kick down switch on the gas pedal works pretty well for this too once you get used to it). They are surprisingly more responsive and it is quicker to shift than I ever expected reading about them. I think they are great.

Like Byakuya I also use them for coming to a stop sometimes and occasionally merging onto the freeway (I realize he said every time, but I like the automatic in this car so much it is rarely necessary).

All in all I'm glad I have them BUT using the up/down manual option on the shifter itself seems to work just as well and I would probably use those if I didn't have the paddles.
 

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I'll agree with most here, I use it mostly for slowing down w/o the brakes and to make for a more spirited drive ... usually keeping the RPM's in the better sweet spot. Typically I don't even switch to manual mode, and just flip the button when I feel the need. Eventually it goes back to it's regular mode.

FWIW, with the GT Tech Package, you get a "sport" mode button, that makes the transmission quite lively. It keeps your RPM's up, making the throttle response much quicker. I find myself using sport mode more than manual mode in most instances where I want to zoom-zoom around a bit -- the transmission does a pretty good job of keeping the engine responsive in this mode.

You do pay a bit in the MPG's when doing manual or sport mode ... at least, that's my experience.
 

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IMO they are a gimmick as well. This cars transmission is smart/smooth enough that they are really not needed... but... that said.. I use them for wrong reason they were designed I think. I use them when driving for MPG's to upshift quicker than the auto does... especially in traffic. Go figure. :confused:
 

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All they're good for in this car is engine braking (and often they require two or three downshifts to accomplish that). Both upshifts and downshifts are horribly slow, and the paddles turn with the steering wheel, so they're never in the right place for reliable access during turns. In light of the fact that the transmission downshifts reaonably and reliably for passing "power" (for lack of a more accurate term) , I'd say they're nearly worthless. I actually passed up on a 9th gen V6 Accord Touring sedan due to lack of paddles, and wife rejected the Accord due to the lack of BSM. Bonehead move on my part all around, both for my own bad choice, and for putting so much weight on the wife's opinion when it comes to a vehicle.

Now the leather trimmed titanium paddles on my G37, an absolutely awesome execution of the concept, both for tactile feel, stationary positioning on the column, and quick responses on upshift and downshift. The rev-matching feature in that car's 7 speed auto doesn't hurt either.

Hell, the paddles in my '09 Honda Fit were better than the excuse for paddles in the 6, though they also rotated with the steering wheel, just like in the 6.. But at least they responded reasonably well when you could access them.
 

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I went from stick for 20 yrs (yeah, I'm an old geezer, indeed) from trick Mitsus, VWs, Audis, a custom restored MGB, MBZ, Isuzus, both gas and diesels etc and prior to the B5 Tip..a 5sp man Honda Civic Si (since high schooler of 14yrs. The whole family drives a stick...it was a family affair, father and mother..save the spoiled eldest of the 4 siblings :lol: , as she was driven around town often by our family driver, labor was cheap...old Country, back in the Far East years ago) then abruptly went to a 5sp Tiptronic for 12+yrs (worse mistake)..yet as much as I can "engine brake" with that forced induced manumatic/auto/Tip ATW 1.8T..I'm sorry to say this, but I tend to digress. It is not a true substitute to mimic engine braking, as on a standard transmission drive train. A very poor attempt at replication...paddle shift or not. Very artificial.

So now, I'm back to stick shift driving since last year, with this Touring 6MT (the 12+yrs on auto Tiptronic had finally ended)...and all I can say is, I am so, so glad. Why did I go back to MT driving??...Well, there are multitude of good reasons, as to why...

Been there, done that. :D
 

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Quick question because a lot of you are saying that you use it to downshift for breaking..... do your cars not automatically downshift when you are breaking really hard? I noticed mine does this and I think it's really cool that mazda did that.
 

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I have taken the 2014 Mazda 6 GT on vacation three times in the mountains. Each time, the paddles came into use on long downhill grades when you don't want to ride the brakes and overheat them.

I discovered that you don't need to be in manual shift mode to use the paddles. The indicator shows "D 3" or whatever gear you are in. Once there is no need for the lower gear for deceleration, the computer puts it back in Drive. The paddles are perfect for this kind of driving.
 

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I went from stick for 20 yrs (yeah, I'm an old geezer, indeed) from trick Mitsus, VWs, Audis, a custom restored MGB, MBZ, Isuzus, both gas and diesels etc and prior to the B5 Tip..a 5sp man Honda Civic Si (since high schooler of 14yrs. The whole family drives a stick...it was a family affair, father and mother..save the spoiled eldest of the 4 siblings :lol: , as she was driven around town often by our family driver, labor was cheap...old Country, back in the Far East years ago) then abruptly went to a 5sp Tiptronic for 12+yrs (worse mistake)..yet as much as I can "engine brake" with that forced induced manumatic/auto/Tip ATW 1.8T..I'm sorry to say this, but I tend to digress. It is not a true substitute to mimic engine braking, as on a standard transmission drive train. A very poor attempt at replication...paddle shift or not. Very artificial.

So now, I'm back to stick shift driving since last year, with this Touring 6MT (the 12+yrs on auto Tiptronic had finally ended)...and all I can say is, I am so, so glad. Why did I go back to MT driving??...Well, there are multitude of good reasons, as to why...

Been there, done that. :D

I hear you. 9 of my 13 car history have been manuals and I recently took a detour with my 335d. The paddles on the 'd were the push/pull type which were not great. Love having the manual again in the 6. There is no substitute for a clutch pedal.


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I don't like them

My title is generic so I'll elaborate...

I've owned two S1 RX-8's with ATX (an 04 & 05) and my wife has a 2005 MINI Cooper S R53. All of them have automatic transmissions that were built by Aisin. Mazda didn't do it right. They just made the right choice. MINI did as well. The RX-8 and MINI both have the paddle shifters on both sides like the Miata previously mentioned. You pull either side to shift up and push either side to shift down. Makes perfect sense to me. Maybe Mazda was cutting cost or they realized that in most peoples opinion they're a novelty. I don't like this setup. Therefore, when I drive in Manual Mode I just shift with the stick

I'll conclude with this. You all who are using the manual mode as an engine brake are tearing up your transmissions (maybe not immediately but long-term...they're done).

1) These xmsn's are not designed to downshift from higher RPMs. It's impossible to rev match with an automatic.
2) I know this because one of the RX-8's I bought (knowing the xmsn was shot) would shift through all four gears but only move forward in 1st and 2nd gears and reverse. When I dropped the drain pan the magnets were covered with so many fine metallic particles it looked like a Chia Pet.

BOTTOM LINE: Down shift at your own risk. Just my humble opinion backed up with my own experience.

Thanks,
Anthony
 

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I actually think the Miata steering wheel nailed the shifters on the head. They have both an up paddle and down button on either side of the wheel: this way, you can be using a single hand on either side fo the wheel and control both up and down, rather than a single side designated to up and the other to down. I find when I'm cruising around in the city that it would be far more convenient if I had both on the same side, but in those cases I just use the actual shifter with my right hand.
If you went to buy an MX5 with the automatic, I'd be there to slap you. :)

Last year for the climb, when I drove back home I had to go over the bridge at Port Huron in stop and go traffic. I think I glazed my clutch face a bit with so many hill starts but it was the only way to go. Moments like that make me wish I had an automatic but every other moment I'd be dreading the choice.

Typically if I know a certain route is going to have tons of traffic, I take that opportunity to take the scenic route! Found tons of good roads in my area that way.
 

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If you went to buy an MX5 with the automatic, I'd be there to slap you. :)
I wish someone had slapped me when I bought not one, but two AT RX-8's. If I ever buy another it will be a MT no doubt. I love the RX-8. I love the 2016 MX5 more but I just don't think I'll fit properly...UNFORTUNATE! :frown2:
 
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