Engine and Drive Train Variant Driveability - Manual/Auto, Petrol/Diesel, FWD/AWD - Mazda CX3 Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Engine and Drive Train Variant Driveability - Manual/Auto, Petrol/Diesel, FWD/AWD

Hi all!

Long time lurker, first time poster here. I've fallen completely and utterly in love with the Mazda CX-3. I'm counting down the days until I can purchase what is essentially my ideal car. In the meantime, I've got a question for current owners and prospective buyers alike.

I am in Australia and lucky enough to have access to all five engine and drive-train variants of the CX-3 (FWD M P, FWD A P, AWD A P, FWD A D & AWD A D). In a way this is a gift as I know a bunch of you guys in the US are holding out for a manual variant, but it's put me in quite a predicament; I don't know which to choose!

I've only ever driven a manual car and came into the market set on another manual transmission - didn't even consider cars that didn't have this option. However, after my extended research into the options, I'm now leaning towards an AWD diesel variant as I feel this might better suit my needs. I do a lot of towing for work; 150-200 kilometers every week (only light <500kgs) and consistently do lengthy road trips around the country. The car would also be used for daily commutes of about 15 minutes each way.

I've read so much on the differences in fuel efficiency, servicing costs, purchasing costs, resale value and facts and figures about the specifications of Petrol vs Diesel, and FWD vs AWD, but you know what, nobody ever talks about the driveability of the variants.

That's why I would like to ask, if price wasn't a factor and you could choose freely (or choose again); which engine and drive train variant would you choose and why? What is your variant like to drive?
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 01:49 PM
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AWD Petro GT trim. I have been driving manuals for the last 10 years. Don't miss it one bit in this auto tranny. very responsive and comfortable.

2016 Dynamic Blue CX-3 GT ... 2005 Titanium Grey RX-8 GT
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post #3 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 02:37 PM
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You have answered your own question. AWD diesel turbo automatic covers all of your needs. The torque from the petrol variant does not even compare. If you're going to tow, you will always choose AWD over FWD. There are threads about how good the AWD system works as well. The car is in no way noisier and there is no undue noise when turning corners in car parks or tight enclosures etc.

2015 Mazda CX3 S-Touring AWD Diesel Turbo.

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post #4 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 02:39 PM
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I have the AWD with auto (no manual here in US) and given the choice I would stick with the AWD auto. There's no way I could drive/enjoy a manual in the traffic I deal with.

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post #5 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by greaseman85 View Post
I have the AWD with auto (no manual here in US) and given the choice I would stick with the AWD auto. There's no way I could drive/enjoy a manual in the traffic I deal with.
Same here. Its a great combo for city commuting.

I'd just like another 30hp for more top end power. But its currently great for low rev scooting around the city.
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post #6 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 04:04 PM
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Exactly, a little extra high end torque/power for highway driving would be great. But as it is, it really zips through city traffic!

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post #7 of 18 Old 03-14-2016, 10:36 PM
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I would recommend test driving as much as possible.

Mazda Australia is one of the only car companies left in this country that doesn't treat manual drivers like they are poor.

The car is good in auto but damn it is awesome in manual! (sorry North American guys). I've owned a BMW 1 series in manual and the driving experience is just as good. It is such a good car on a windy road. I'm honestly shocked at the handling ability of this car. It loves to be dropped back a gear and thrown into a corner.

I prefer manuals, and have bought an auto with a previous car .... trust me the decision ruins the car for you over time.

I haven't towed in the car before, so can't comment to seriously on that. But I would be leaning towards the diesel if this was a permanent part of your job. Where are your road trips too normally? Fuel type availability is also a consideration if it is to remote parts of the country like NT, WA, SA ect.

A friend just bought an Akari and the dealers where taking serious money off the drive away price. It is probably the best time to buy a car. I would be asking to take it for a serious test drive, as in for an hour or two to get a feel for the car and the different options available.

I live in Inner Sydney. I do take public transport to work but so luckily don't experience much peak hour traffic. I have been caught in traffic before though. The clutch is so light it isn't that much of a big deal to put it in neutral and sit for a few minutes.

I have a S-Touring in Manual. Would choose that option again

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post #8 of 18 Old 03-15-2016, 01:20 AM
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I originally ordered a manual but my wife wanted an auto so that meant we had to have the diesel to combine AWD - don't ask me why.

The diesel is a 1.5 Skyactive unit with Euro 6 emission standard. Like the gasoline, it is very modern and will hopefully prove durable. In order to get the emissions down, it has a very low compression ratio of 14:1 (usually they would be in the order of 20:1) and that would normally present a problem cold starting but it has special glow plugs and starts as readily as a petrol engine. It is slightly noisy when cold at idle but this soon changes as the engine gets warm. It is quiet enough when the car is in motion but there is always a "hollow" sound due to the various plastic chambers in the intake which are part of the emission system. This photo clearly shows the electronic injectors which operate at the dizzy pressure of 1800 bar (26000 psi). The turbo is situated at the back. There are two coolant tanks which can lead to the level dropping so that needs checking on a new car. That bright object on the right is the exhaust gas recirculation valve.



The engine is lively enough and will pull hard at low revs. There is little use in revving it much above 2500rpm as the torque curve flattens out unlike the petrol which needs to be revved. I describe it as lively but not fast and unlike the big torquey 2.2 in the CX-5, you have to plan overtaking with some care.

Positive points; the fuel consumption is good although not as claimed by Mazda. My AWD auto does about 42mpg (imperial gallons) on my hilly route to work and it will do well into the 50s on a trip.

Negative points; it has to regenerate the practical filter which it does by super heating the exhaust. Neat fuel is injected in the "post injection" phase not unlike an aircraft afterburner but with now power effect! During this phase, fuel consumption can drop to mid 30s and it does it for me about once a week or 250 miles. If the process is interrupted by stopping the engine, fuel can get into the oil as it trickles past the piston rings and the oil can become diluted. There is an "X" above the full mark which denotes the maximum dilution.

The gearbox in my opinion is a gem despite the faults reported by others here. It is the same box in all variants and can handle the torque from the bigger CX-5 engines. Unlike some other makes that use a CVT with stepped changes, it is a proper 6 speed auto which is delightfully smooth and will vary the change points according to how the car is being driven. At light throttle, up changes take place at the frugal 1500-2000 rpm range and only when pushed hard does it rev into the essentially useless higher range where it just makes the engine work into the flat torque area. I tend to be ready to change up with the paddles which gives an additional kick up the backside. Another nice feature of the box is the way it changes up after descending a hill. Other boxes try to change up as soon as you touch the throttle and the transition from overrun to power makes for a rough change. Mazda have programmed this box to hang on until after the power is applied and then it will change up which is much nicer. When the manual controls are used, the digital up and downshift numbers are displayed on the dash like the manual box.

Currently CX5 SportNav 2.2 diesel automatic and AWD.
Formerly CX3 SportNav 1.5 diesel automatic and AWD.

All advice is given in good spirit and taken entirely at the readers own risk. WORK SAFELY. ©2018 anchorman

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Last edited by anchorman; 03-15-2016 at 02:40 AM.
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post #9 of 18 Old 03-15-2016, 02:02 AM
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Re towing. My mechanical knowledge is very basic, so somebody else jump in and correct me if there are other factors at play which would influence their choice.

But the towing capacity for the diesel is 800 kg opposed to 1200 kg for the petrol.

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post #10 of 18 Old 03-15-2016, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by drs88 View Post
the towing capacity for the diesel is 800 kg opposed to 1200 kg for the petrol.
This is very true. According to Mazda: “The towing capacity for the CX-3 1.5-litre diesel is lower than the 2.0-litre petrol due to a number of reasons: a small capacity turbocharged engine under load producing too much heat, extra heat exchanger in the front of the car for the intercooler, different oiling requirements of the engine.”

I believe however as long as you stay within the weight limitations, I'm finding the general consensus is the diesel is still the better option for towing- just because the petrol can tow more, it doesn't make it necessarily better at it - particularly in terms of acceleration.
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