One one hand, I love the power and handling you get with such a small sticker price. The Protege killed the Civic and the Corolla in the test drive. It's been a lot of fun!! However, I've had to throw a lot of money at it in the four years I've owned it. I've replaced both wheel bearings twice and the stabilizer links twice also. Very disappointing. The mileage isn't all that great either.
The power out of that little 2.0L!!
The Mazda factory needs to spend the extra nickel on better suspension and drive parts.