Piston Slap: A Self-defeating Technology Disorder?

Felix writes:

Got a Mazda 3 hatch to replace my 29-year-old MR2, and while it’s no MR2, it has its own benefits. But I detest Hill Launch Assist, and the power steering is the biggest reminder that it’s no MR2.

The Mazda power steering is better than I expected, but it’s still the first thing I notice when I start it up and always makes me want the MR2 back, three years later. I tried turning the engine off on a private road with just enough slope to keep moving, and it’s kind of scary to imagine that happening on a freeway, it’s so stiff and jerky. Is there any way to disable it and having just plain manual steering, to see what it’s like?

As for Hill Assist, what annoys me the most is not knowing if a slope is enough to trigger it or not; if I expect it, and it didn’t engage, there’s a tire chirp for no reason, and if I don’t expect it but it did engage, I sometimes kill the engine unless I’m paying attention. I can understand its attraction for weenies who are just learning stick, but I don’t need it and don’t want it.

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