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Discussion Starter #1
I have owned a 2006 Mazda 6i with manual transmission for 12 years and 244k miles. I loved that car. When car shopping last year, I knew I wanted a 3rd gen 6, I just couldn't decide on a manual vs automatic. I had driven a 2016 Sport and a 2014 Touring in manual transmission and to me they had similar feel. I felt very disconnected. I mean it was smooth, throws were fine, it just wasn't very engaging to me. Long story short, I settled on a 2017 Touring w/Premium and Bose Sunroof package in an Auto.
25k miles later, I drove a 2017.5 Touring today and can now offer better feedback on my opinion of the same year car with each transmission.

2017 Touring Auto: Transmission is light years beyond the 2008 Mazda 6 rental I drove 10 years ago. If you drive agressive with it, the transmission holds gears longer even when not in sport mode. Leaving it in sport mode will really hold the gears. I don't get the slushbox feeling, it almost feels as good as the manual I drove today. The tiptronic is meh. It auto downshifts if the rpms/speed go to low. It doesn't auto upshift in manual mode however I haven't really gone past 5k in manual mode so I can't really comment.

2017.5 Touring manual: I love the exclusivity of this. This model had the heated seats just like my car. Shifts were buttery smooth. Clutch catch point was pretty high. Clutch was super easy to push - unlike my 06 Mazda 6. I would say 90% of my shifts were perfect. The other 10% was a slight clunk. Car does not really like to be revved - similar to my auto. I guess you can but it seems like 2-3k is where you end up shifting. It tells you what optimal gear you should be in. I felt like I was shifting a lot with it - unlike my 5 speed where the gears were a little more spaced out. I was in 6th gear at 50mph similar to my Automatic. Flooring it felt slower then the automatic. I didn't care for the electric parking brake in the manual - it just doesn't "feel" right compared to a handbrake lever. Two words that describe my test drive : muted and disconnected.

Final thoughts: I have always wanted to drive the 2017.5 Touring manual - its the last year you can get with the Leatherette and heated seats with Nav in the US market. The fact that its so rare and hard to find makes it really attractive and makes me want to own it. But then I have to take a step back and see it for what it is. Its primary purpose ( at least for me) is a commuting car. Creature comforts like the LED lights with AFS, sunroof, Bose, and auto dimming mirror went from luxuries I thought I would never use to options I now wouldn't want to live without. Especially since half my commute is at night - the LED's light up the road! The manual doesn't really offer anything other then the ability to row your own gears. You sacrifice all the great features the Mazda 6 has to offer for less gas mileage, and a car that's ultimately geared for efficiency. At the end of all this, I think the best compromise is a Miata or some other weekend car in a manual and the Auto Mazda 6.
For reference, this is the car I drove:
https://www.fermanchevrolet.net/VehicleDetails/used-2017-Mazda-Mazda6-2017.5_Touring_Manual-Tarpon_Springs-FL/3453150923

Now if the Mazda 6 Turbo came in a manual with the GTR trim....I think that would solve most if not all my issues.
 

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... I guess you can but it seems like 2-3k is where you end up shifting. It tells you what optimal gear you should be in. I felt like I was shifting a lot with it - unlike my 5 speed where the gears were a little more spaced out. I was in 6th gear at 50mph similar to my Automatic. Flooring it felt slower then the automatic...
Do not agree that shifting somewhere between 2-3k is naturally where you end shifting. Up towards 3k - yes... mebe in the 2.5 - 3k range. 2k - 2.5k - NO. Lackluster performance, there. Risk getting clobbered by guy behind you, when we talk of the first-to-second shift.

Agree re the very close-ratio nature of the 'box. Kinda wish it were a 5 speed. That, or do what I do... skip gears going up.

Re that acceleration.... of course the A/T will feel faster... torque multiplication of the torque converter, ready ability of the A/T to downshift with throttle pressure.

I find that in 2nd or 3rd gear, the car is pretty alive between 3k and 4.5k. I have not tried to rev it up much above 4.5k (yet).

I don't find that the car is THAT MUCH super-sport oriented. Bit disappointing, in that regard. But lots of utility and interior space...
 

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Couldn't agree more. I was in rush hour traffic during my test drive which could explain the 2k shifts. I am very light with the gas. But yes, 2.5k-3k would be ideal! I guess I need to sit in a Miata now and compare gearboxes. Regardless - if I was in the market 8 months ago and a 6speed manual popped up, I would have chosen it since it just so cool to have something nobody else has. My only constructive criticism for Mazda was I would have liked to see the "drive" to be more engaging. I felt like I was driving an automatic. My 06 clutch was a lot less forgiving and more clunky. It felt more like a go-kart which I guess is what I am trying to describe as my desired experience. The new 6 would probably not sell well if it drove like one which makes me really want to find a new miata stick shift to see if that can offer what I am after.
 

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so as to your creature comforts complaints:

1. Totally agree on the autodimming mirror. But it's an easy mod. Shoot you can get a homelink one with a compass from ebay for under $50 and a plug and play harness to wire it up from amazon for around $20.

2. The halogen headlights do suck. But They get a lot better if you re-aim them up a little and put in H9s in the low beams. Like a LOT better. Under $20 and 30 minutes of your time.

can't really say anything about bose, because I haven't heard it. But with the carplay kit installed, the factory HU is pretty nice. And I even gets me nav!

I agree re rowing a lot with a six speed, but If you think about it as a four speed with some half step options it makes more sense. 1-3-5 can work fine around town. Or 1-2-4-6. It's very rare for me to row through all of the gears. There's nearly always a skip in there somewhere. But when you do need to downshift and pick the right one, it's there.
 

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...which makes me really want to find a new miata stick shift to see if that can offer what I am after.
Let me tell you, having driven a '19 Miata soft-top and an RF variant, both in 6MT, that the Miata is everything that I would want, by way of 6MT performance. Absolutely HEAVENLY drive-quality.

I drove it on a demo-course that Mazda Canada put-on at a Metro Vancouver airport facility. The chassis is delightful both in day-to-day and on the auto-slalom course that was available at the Mazda-day venue. Though I did not drive it at highway speeds (vis à vis the power-issue) at the speeds I drove it, lack of power was not evident.

BTW, what really surprised me was how well the 2.5T A/T Mazda6 ran the same autoslalom course. Yes, much bigger car, but amazingly good at negotiating the cones at speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Let me tell you, having driven a '19 Miata soft-top and an RF variant, both in 6MT, that the Miata is everything that I would want, by way of 6MT performance. Absolutely HEAVENLY drive-quality.



I drove it on a demo-course that Mazda Canada put-on at a Metro Vancouver airport facility. The chassis is delightful both in day-to-day and on the auto-slalom course that was available at the Mazda-day venue. Though I did not drive it at highway speeds (vis à vis the power-issue) at the speeds I drove it, lack of power was not evident.



BTW, what really surprised me was how well the 2.5T A/T Mazda6 ran the same autoslalom course. Yes, much bigger car, but amazingly good at negotiating the cones at speed.
Now I HAVE to rent or test drive a miata. I got to drive a Fiat model that looked similar but it was an automatic and a short loop at the auto show so other then feel awkwardly close to the event host, never really got to go past 20mph in downtown Tampa traffic.

I think the miata will satisfy the urge if I can find one in a stick.

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