I love this car. I wanted one from the day it came out on the lot. After I got one though I had to admit that everyone was right. It needed more power. So I got my hands on a 2003.5 Mazdaspeed Protege that was wrecked by a rear end collision with only 1k miles on the car. Took the full turbo kit and put it on my MP3. The MP3 now has just over 200 horsepower at the wheels. The car is now perfect!
I bought my Protege in 2001 near the end of the season. I really enjoy driving this car. It holds the road well and is really fun to drive. I love the slick shifting 5 speed manual and the steering response. It has decent acceleration for a 2.0 liter and can really be thrown into corners. The interior space is a little smaller than some competitors and the seats are not comfortable for long trips. The only two complaints I have are the tires and CD player. The original tires wore too quickly (30k) and did not grip as well as the replacements do. The LCD on the CD players is sometimes missing pieces of numbers, making it hard to read. This happened after it was out of warranty.
Smooth shifting manual transmission, great handling, sporty looks, and easy to reach radio controls.
Seats are a bit uncomfortable on long trips (bottom cushion is too short). Tilt steering is hard to access. Many trim panels feel cheap. The original tires (Bridgestone Potenzas) wore too quickly and did not handle as well as many other "V" rated tires.
I bought this car brand new. I haven't
had any issues with the car. Mazda
made a good move in bringing this car
to the market which opened the door to
the Mazdaspeed brand in the US. The
chasis is stiff and can handle just
about anything you throw at it.
The protege is a blast to drive. Its chassis
smooth and quick, and the steering is nicely
weighted. Only problems have been the EGR valve,
which stuck and caused a stalling problem, the
brakes, which tend to
squeal (but stop amazingly well), and the clutch,
which has some chatter in cold weather. My protege
60k miles on it and still feels new.
Steering. Brakes. Style--this car looks great. Roomy
AC could be colder. Would be nice if less tire and
wind noise entered the cabin. Could use taller 5th
gear (engine winds out to 3500rpm at 70mph).
Shifter could be more precise. Oil filter is difficult
to get at (under intake manifold by the firewall).