1.23.2016

Six the Easy Way: The 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring with Automatic Transmission

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring
The 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring.
A year ago this week, I wrote a rave review of the 2016 Mazda 3 S Five Door Grand Touring.

It had a six-speed manual and I am one of the estimated seven percent of American drivers who know how to drive a stick.  Don't be impressed.  It used to be much, much higher.  But over the decades since I learned, the number of people who learned has dropped like a rock.  That affects sales, of course, and as of now, only 3.9% of cars sold in this country are sold with a manual transmission. Meaning most people buying a Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring will be buying it with an automatic.

The question is, is it as good?




Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring
2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring.
If you've been driving for a while, whether or not you can drive a stick, you likely know the historic advantages to doing so...lower price (automatics cost more), better performance (you decide when you need a higher gear) and better fuel economy (torque converters used in automatics were inefficient., power was lost in the process and more gas would be burned to achieve the same speed).

Today, only one of those three issues remains.

An automatic-spec 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring will cost $1,050 more than one with a six-speed manual.

Beyond that, it's a tale of the marvels of modern transmission technology.  The six-speed sport mode automatic in the Mazda is electronically controlled.  Select sport mode and it will pick the shift point for maximum performance.  It's better at it than you are, even if you're the best stick-shift driver in the world. It's certainly better than I am. Unless your brain processes movements of your right arm and left foot as "fun", the Mazda 3 S Five-Door with an automatic is no less fun than one with a stick.

And when you're not driving it like you stole it, you simply push a button to take it out of "Sport" and it will pick the shift points to maximize fuel efficiency.  As a result, the EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring are better than for the stick (27 city/37 highway for the automatic, 26/35 for the manual).

Interior view of 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring
2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring interior.
Beyond that, every rave I wrote about the Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring a year ago holds true today.  It is a blast to drive, comes equipped with a remarkable list of standard equipment, including one of the nicest interiors of any compact car.

Base price for a 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring with automatic is $26,495.  Our tester was also treated to a cargo mat ($70), a cargo net ($80), the Soul Red Metallic paint was an extra $300, $650 went to remote start,a rear bumper guard was $100, scuff plates and door sill trim plates added $125 and the Appearance Package (with front air dam, door mirror caps, a rear hatch spoiler, rear bumper skirt and side sill extensions) boosted the tab by $1,750.  Bottom line, with $820 delivery, processing and handling fee: $30,270.

Yes, a manually-equipped one would cost less.  And if you can drive a stick, or want to learn (it's not that hard), it's a great way to go.  But I'm happy to report that should you choose the automatic, it's not at all a lesser car.

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