Take Control of Your Mazda Driving Experience With Manual Shift Mode

By Product Expert | Posted in Mazda Technology, Tips and Tricks on Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 9:03 pm
How to Use Mazda Manual Shift Mode

You can shift in manual shift mode using either the shift knob or steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

How to Use Mazda Manual Shift Mode

These days, few drivers know how to operate a manual transmission, but those who do know that it’s the most enjoyable way to drive. Now, if you’re one of those who doesn’t know how to drive with a manual transmission, don’t worry. By learning how to use Mazda manual shift mode, you can enjoy some of the benefits of manual shifting while still operating an automatic transmission.

mazda transmission mode and rpm displayUsing manual shift mode on your Mazda is simple, and if your vehicle is equipped with it, you can follow the steps down below. If you struggle learning how the system works, you can always contact us at Mazda of Lodi.

  1. Switch to manual mode: To switch into manual shift mode, simply slide the shifter left from D to M. The selected gear will illuminate in the instrument cluster.
  2. Shift using the shift knob: All you need to do to shift to a different gear is to push the shift knob forward to shift down to a lower gear, and pull the shift knob backward to shift into a higher gear.
  3. Paddle shifters: Paddle shifters can also be used to shift in manual mode. They should be marked with a “-” sign and a “+” sign. Shift to a higher gear by pulling the right paddle and to a lower gear using the left paddle.
  4. Direct Mode: You can also shift using the paddle shifters while the shifter is still in D. This is called Direct Mode and allows you to temporarily take control of transmission shifting. Direct Mode will be canceled after a certain amount of time, if you drive too slow, if you stop the vehicle, or if you pull and hold the right paddle shifter toward you.

[Related: Learn more about the exhilarating benefits of using Mazda Sport Mode] 

What are the benefits of using manual shift mode?

For some, driving in manual shift mode may just be more fun. But there are some benefits to operating in manual shift mode that you can take advantage of, such as getting the right amount of power for passing on the highway or cornering. It’s just a simpler way for you to take more control of your transmission’s shifting, so if that’s something that interests you, try it out.

Knowing how to use Mazda manual shift mode can be a lot of fun, but be sure to read up on how transmissions work, when to shift and how you can get the most out of your vehicle when shifting manually. Stay tuned for more Mazda insights right here on the Mazda of Lodi blog.

23 Responses to “Take Control of Your Mazda Driving Experience With Manual Shift Mode”

  1. Andrew V says:

    I love manual mode but it’s frustrating when you want to change down from say 4th to 3rd and transmission decides to automatically downshift at the same time and you end up in 2nd instead of 3rd.

    Drive mode equally frustrating because it wants to upshift into 5th at only 40kmh and 6th at 50kmh.

  2. Andrew V says:

    Sports mode also frustrating because it holds onto gears too long and revs too high.
    Would be great if Mazda had an intermediate sports mode between normal drive mode and sports mode.
    Logically I would name the 3 different modes Ecconomy, Normal and Sports with Economy being the default mode.

  3. Pogobinzo says:

    I’m new to the manual mode in an automatic. What is a safe value to shift at? Specifically driving in the mountains?

  4. Chris roth says:

    So is nobody going to point out that it seems stupid to have to press down on the knob to shift up and press up to shift down?? About the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen on a car. I had an eclipse before and it was, what makes sense, up for up and down for down. What a concept. I do love manual shift but would like to know what exactly the engineers were thinking when they did it that way.

    • Francis says:

      Hm. If I understand your post correctly, I think you might have read that wrong. When the car is in drive, one just has to pull it to the left. At that point it will be in whatever gear the automatic transmission had set itself at until that moment (might be 3, 4, 5, etc). Then you just bump it forward to drop a gear and back to go up a gear. It’s actually really a small movement (and not altogether much like driving a manual, but a fun new flavor of driving nonetheless. It falls right between auto and manual, I suppose). The only time one needs to push the shifter button is to pull it out of Park and into Reverse or Drive (and Drive to Reverse, of course).

      That’s been my experience, anyway. Kind of a “cute” compromise when having purchased an automatic, but wanting to play with the shifting when I get the itch.

    • ricardo says:

      Yes I agree, that don’t make sense at all. I have a 2007 mazda cx7 sport that is that way. It feels backward. I had manual shifting mode transmitions before, push forward to go up shift, and pull back to shift down, that make more sense.

    • Robert Perry says:

      The reason downshift is forward and upshift is back, is that when you are downshifting — possibly braking at the same time — your body’s momentum is moving forward. When you’re upshifting and accelerating your body’s momentum is moving backward backward into the seat. So by shifting in the same direction as your momentum, you’re not fighting gravity to shift. Some race cars use this direction for shifting. In this video at 1:35 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XviGi4u0eTA

    • Robert Perry says:

      The reason downshift is forward and upshift is back, is that when you are downshifting — possibly braking at the same time — your body’s momentum is moving forward. When you’re upshifting and accelerating your body’s momentum is moving backward backward into the seat. So by shifting in the same direction as your momentum, you’re not fighting gravity to shift.


    I HAVE ISSUE’S TO REVERSER MX-5 and this vehicle is stick shift… can anyone tell me how I can back up…

  6. Christian Borromeo says:

    I hope this comment section is still active. I used manual shifting, because my transmission slips sometimes when I use automatic. But there were two instances where the tranny overheated because I used manual shifting. Have anyone experienced that?

  7. Zoltan G. Zeisky says:

    In response to Chris Roth’s comment, when I purchased our 2016 CX-5 with automatic, the problematic upshift/downshift direction of the shifter through me for a loop, cause after my two Chryslers which had the +/- direction correctly, this Mazda is just the opposite, and totally confuses my brain and all who drive it with it’s unconventional method.
    It bothered me so much that I had Mazda dealership reverse the connections in the console reed switches to the computer, to allow for the proper forward movement upshift, and backward movement for downshift. The logical method. I am a happy camper now. Initially I did think it was wired up wrongly from the factory … so much for Mazda’s better ideas .. just like not having the automatic power side mirrors memory position settings tied in with the electric seat settings.. another screw up on their part !!!

  8. marty b says:

    I agree with Chris roth. Just bought a 2018 cx5. I was convinced that this was a factory screw up. Apparently not. It is yes, STUPID.

  9. Conor Smyth says:

    The up for downshift and down for upshift is not stupid. It’s the proper way to do it. All real sequential transmissions are the same way. Considering the race heritage in Mazda’s DNA, it makes sense they do the proper way of shifting in a sequential. And up there Robert Perry explained why it is the way it is.

  10. Conor Smyth says:

    Not a screw up. Just making a proper sequential transmission, like found in many race cars. The real way to shift a sequential is down for upshift and up for downshift. I much prefer the way Mazda does it.

  11. Robert Fletcher says:

    It’s actually not and it’s the traditional set up for a sequential transmission in Motorsports. That’s how they should be……every other car maker has it backwards is what I have noticed… The direction makes sense but your body momentum moves forward to brake and downshift….so you also tap forward so your not going against yourself……it’s a Motorsports thing tbh and Mazda is traditional

  12. Dee Cee says:

    Yes, Mazda has it right — pull back to shift up, push forward to shift down.
    Every other manufacturer has it wrong.
    It would not make a difference it you’re playing a video game but Mazda’s is set up for real world driving. Race cars use the same shift method.

  13. PhxAz says:

    The direction feels natural to me. It may be because with automatic, you pull to go into D (Drive) and push to go into P (Park). Shifting back just feels like I’m giving more power to D and yeah the momentum thing makes sense.

  14. Mike says:

    In sweden it´s common with a “real” manuel 6-speed gearbox som I know how to drive Booth automatic and manual and an automatic gearbox can never compare to the feel of a proper manual gearbox. It´s more like a simulation.

  15. Frederick lipsett says:

    During the snow I used the neg and post gear and now I drive it feels like it’s still in gear can you help me get it back to regular drive .2007 mazda cx7

  16. Nolan says:

    How will i know when to Up shift and when to down shift in my 2009 Mazda 6 ?

  17. Rod says:

    For those that are confused or just think it’s stupid to push the shift knob forward to get into a low gear…
    I’m guessing they designed it that way because it’s similar to driving a manual stick shift.
    I’ll try to explain it… But Looking up “5 speed manual diagram” online will show you easier and quicker.
    1st gear is at the top left… 2nd is down from 1st. 3rd is up and right of 1st… 4th is down from 3rd. 5th is up and right of 3rd. Reverse is down from 5th (don’t go from 5th to reverse though ; ))… And neutral is in the middle.
    So, UP to 1st gear for those of us that have driven a manual feels natural. For those of you that haven’t, you are now learning how to drive a stick stick (sort of).
    I just got a CX-5 Sport yesterday and haven’t used the paddle shifter yet. It will be very useful in the snow. Driving in a low gear downhill without hitting your brakes can keep you from sliding. On a good sized hill, you will still have to tap your brakes quickly and intermittently. Even in first gear, a car can go pretty fast if the slope is steep and/or long.
    Once you learn it, it will be fun on curvy roads.
    I’ve read that only 18% of the people in the U.S. know how to drive a stick… If you have the chance to learn, do.
    It doesn’t take long to learn and you will never forget how.

  18. Duane L D says:

    I understand the up & down hand shift. Where’s the paddle shift ? I see a gas & a brake.

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