WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Being a relatively new car, there aren’t many issues with the mk4, but there are some. Most worrying concerns the gearbox, but determining the scale of the issue is hard because of online hysteria.
Some early production cars suffered a reluctance to be shifted into second and/or third gear, and some struggled occasionally to engage first. Many of the instances of this happening came from the States, but there have been reports in the UK, too. In an internal memorandum Mazda stated that problem cars ‘might have been driven with rapid acceleration and deceleration using frequent changes, causing damage to second and/or third gears’. In other words, cars used for trackdays and sometimes racing.
Some gearboxes have been changed under warranty, the replacements featuring uprated internals: sources reckon that the mk4 is already on its fourth generation gearbox. But that said, the vast majority of cars have suffered no gearbox issues at all, and later models have the upgraded ’boxes fitted from new. That said, if the shift is sticky or you hear odd noises from the gearbox, maybe start looking elsewhere. By the way, a ‘wobbly’ gearlever is natural, designed to give you a greater feeling of connection with the mechanical bits of the car.
A more common problem is hood wear. As the hood is lowered and raised, the front edge can rub against the style bars behind the headrests, and in extreme circumstances be damaged to the point of requiring replacement. Fitting a new one is quite complicated and therefore costly, so check the hood carefully. And be aware that the advice in the car’s handbook suggests being outside the cockpit to operate the roof.
Some RFS have been known to drain their battery in 12–14 days when parked up, because of a glitch with the cruise control – an error in the instrument cluster’s software means that if you switch off with the cruise control still engaged, there’s a huge parasitic drain on the battery. A new instrument cluster cures the issue.