Purchased my Protege and have had 50k trouble free miles to date. What this little rocket lacks in power it makes up for in handling and sheer driving pleasure. I've replaced the original tires with Pirelli PZero Nero's and they are a blast on this car. Other than the lack of sheer power I love this car. Other than normal maintenance this is the most trouble free car I've owned; starts always not a worry to report.
Handling, sheer driving pleasure only short of a BMW. Moonroof, great stereo, all the luxury touches of a more upscale car.
Well, now that the latest version Mazda 3 has the available 160 horsepower 2.3 liter engine, the horsepower issue has been addressed; all else makes it a blast to own and drive