Which Mazda Models Still Offer a Manual Transmission?

If you’re a driving enthusiast, then you most likely prefer your cars with a manual transmission. After all, there’s no better feeling than being to down-shift a gear yourself when coming in hot on a corner and then upshift at the redline. With a stick shift, the powerband is yours to command.

However, a manual transmission is only really fun when connected to the right car. Mazdas, for example, have always been known for their sporty driving characteristics. But do any Mazda models in the current lineup come with a manual transmission?

Only two Mazda models come with the option for a manual transmission

A rear view of the 2022 Mazda3 hatchback.
A rear view of the 2022 Mazda3 hatchback. | Mazda

For the 2022 model year, only two models can be equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. The first one is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, which, in our opinion, is made to be shifted by the driver. The second one is the Mazda3 Hatchback. However, only the Premium trim level has an option for the manual transmission, which is interesting.

It’s interesting because the Mazda3 Hatchback Premium is the top trim in the car’s lineup that’s equipped with the non-turbo, 186-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 engine. It’s also only available in the front-drive configuration, although an all-wheel drive setup is available. But if you want all four wheels to spin, you’ll have to settle for the SKYACTIV six-speed automatic transmission instead.

What’s also a bummer is that Mazda didn’t include the manual transmission on the higher turbocharged trim levels. The force-fed Mazda3’s come equipped with a SKYACTIV Dynamic Pressure engine that pumps out 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which would be a hoot to drive with a stick shift. However, that engine is only computer-shifted only.

The Mazda MX-5 is widely available with a manual transmission

A pair of Mazda MX-5 Miatas driving down the road.
A pair of Mazda MX-5 Miatas driving down the road. | Mazda

The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the complete opposite of the Mazda3 when it comes to transmission choices. Buyers can opt for the six-speed manual transmission on all three trim levels – Sport, Club, and Grand Touring – in addition to the hardtop-equipped RF model. A six-speed automatic transmission is also available, but that’s only available on the top-trim Grand Touring.

Unlike the Mazda3, the MX-5 is only available in a rear-drive configuration, which is how it should be. Under the hood is a 181-hp, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine that revs freely and provides plenty of smiles for miles. The transmission is also equipped with a limited-slip differential for optimal power distribution between the rear wheels.

Why don’t more Mazda models come with a manual transmission?

A view of the driver's seat in the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
A view of the driver’s seat in the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata. | Mazda

While we would love to be able to shift a Mazda CX-5 ourselves, the two aforementioned models are the only ones that come with a manual transmission. It’s most likely due to cost, as the take rate for manual transmissions is typically very low across the board. In some models from other automakers, we’re talking about less than 10% of buyers opting to shift the car themselves.

That could easily equate to a lot of cost and time wasted by the manufacturer to produce cars with a stick shift. It’s no wonder that the manual transmission could be going the way of the dodo bird in the future. But for now, at least cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Mazda3 Premium are doing what they can to save the manuals.

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