My wife and I rented an '05 Mazda 3 for an overnight trip to MA, just under 350 miles all together. 2.3 liters, variable valve timing, 5-speed manumatic tranny, 5-door hatchback with a rear spoiler. 32.9 mpg for the 148 miles that I was able to measure accurately. We used the a/c always.
First tank was not accurately measured since I had no way of knowing when it was filled by previous user. Assuming it was driven 5 miles on the tank before I got it, we got 27.4 mpg on that first tank. That was mostly hiway @ 67 mph, 30 mi. rural roads between 40-50 mph, and a couple short trips with 4 adults where it barely got warmed up. AC all the way, auto tranny in D, cc at 76 mph on highways.
Second tank: 148.5 mi., 4.514 gal, netted 32.9 mpg! Properly topped off to the second click, so I feel confident in the fill method. AC all the way, auto tranny in M, cc at 76 mph on hiways. We made about 4-5 stops on that tank so it wasn't a straight highway run.
Tranny is manumatic; you can shift +/- a gear in M by pushing up or down on the shift lever. I used the auto tranny in M whenever possible to hold it in 5th to avoid downshifts whenever I wanted to pass or whatever. Instrument cluster has a digital display showing the gear currently in use. This is full-time, regardless of whether the tranny is in M or not. Nice feature!
When coasting in D, the rpms would drop a bit but not anywhere near the 700 rpm base idle. Something like 1500 rpm coasting in D at highway speeds. Cruising rpms: 67 mph = 2500 rpm in 5th, auto manumatic.
I found it would downshift pretty much whenever I gave it more throttle. Putting the tranny in M got rid of that. On the other hand, it would go into 5th quite early, so cruising around town at 30-35 mph I was usually in 5th gear.
I'm sorry I don't have information on coasting in N. I tried it once and heard/felt a good thunk when I put it back in gear. Considering it wasn't my car I didn't pursue that. Maybe it needs rev matching or something else to make neutral cost more doable.
I have to say the car was very comfortable and handled well. Of course with my wife along I didn't take any fast corners or other more extreme moves. However I felt very confident with the handling.
Currently getting +/- 50 mpg in fall weather. EPA is 31/39 so not too shabby. WAI, fuel cutoff switch, full belly pan, smooth wheel covers.
rh77, these should all be more standardized. Mine's the same as yours and opposite of the Mazda's as well.
I was driving a Mazda3 rental right before getting the bean and I must admit, it seemed far more intuitive to pull back on the shifter to move up the gears. I also liked pulling it inwards instead of outwards to go manual where the elbow angle is better aligned.
How hard would it be for the mfrs to make it so that we can decide which way we prefer? ;-)