ATC Blog

How The Stick Shift Saved The Mazda6

Anyone who’s going through auto mechanic training has to ask: What’s happened to drivers? Real drivers. The kind of people who like to get behind the wheel, strap in and hug a corner? Where’d they go?

Today, people seem more interested in simply getting from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible than they do enjoying the excitement and exhilaration of “feeling” a turn, making a move through traffic and controlling a car. The driving “experience” has been relegated to something of an afterthought.

True drivers, it seems, are disappearing. And so are affordable automobiles that provide a true driving experience – which explains why the Mazda 6 was on the extinction list for a while.

The sporty little sedan with the stick shift was a true driver’s car. It had zip. It was readily available with a manual transmission. It looked cool. And most importantly, it was relatively affordable.

But as people’s interest in a true driving experience began to disappear, so did their interest in a manual transmission. People started to prefer cars with automatic transmissions, so auto makers cut way back on the number of mid-size sedans with manual transmissions they produced.

A recent survey of available automobiles by Cars.com showed that only 77 of 16,000 new Ford Fusions available for purchase had manual transmissions. To make matters worse for people who love driving, real driving, only about 350 of 17,000 available Passats were manual and just 900 of 33,000 Honda Accords allowed the driver to control the shifting duties.

If a person didn’t know better, it might be easy to assume that nobody wants a mid-size sedan with a manual transmission. But anyone who’s involved or interested in auto mechanic training knows this isn’t true.

There are a few people out there who still love driving–who still want a stick shift. And for those people, there is (thankfully) the Mazda 6.

For whatever reason, Mazda never fully abandoned the stick shift. Maybe they knew that true drivers would never go away. Maybe they thought that someone had to offer a mid-size sedan with a manual transmission, so it might as well be Mazda. Or maybe they just never got around to doing away with the stick shift because they had other, more pressing, matters to address.

Whatever the company’s reasons, they made a smart decision.

Today, the Mazda 6 with a manual transmission, is a difficult car to keep on the lot.

True drivers, the people who like the excitement that a manual transmission brings to the driving experience, still exist – and they’re overwhelmingly choosing the Mazda 6. According to Cars.com, the Mazda 6 is flying off off lots. It takes only about 30 days for dealers to move the cars, which is much quicker than other cars.

So maybe other automobile manufacturers shouldn’t be so quick to write off drivers – true drivers, that is. And for sure, students undergoing auto mechanic training should know how to repair cars with manual transmissions. Thanks to the Mazda 6, they’ll still be out there – and thanks to the stick shift, the Mazda 6 is thriving.

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