2001 Mazda Protege ES 2.0 gasoline from North America


Absolute pleasure to own


The radio was changed on warranty because the radio stations would change just slightly up or down on occasion when hitting a bump in the road.

The driver door seal was changed on warranty, because I found it was wearing out prematurely.

Very soon I will need to change the 4 tires after only 33,000 KM of regular non abusive driving.

The hubcaps crack and break when removed. They have a technical service bulletin on this matter.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd August, 2003

2001 Mazda Protege MP3 2.0 from North America


Great car worth every sent and more


The Kenwood z919 deck was stolen (go figure, a $750 deck without a detachable face)

Tires needed to be replaced at 23k miles.

General Comments:

I really enjoy my car. I've had it about 9 months and put around 24k miles on it. I put blue chassis lights on it, blue headlight LEDs, and clear Alteza taillights. Other than that it's stock for right now.

Waiting for the Mazda Speed Protege to come out so I can get the turbo and put that on my car as I would be happier with a little more performance. I had an 84 Camaro that my dad and I built so dropping down to the MP3 really shows the lack of performance.

Getting the windows tented as the dark interrior gets very hot on summer days.

18" Enkei wheels do to the factory wheels getting scrapped on the invisible curbs during Denver snow storms.

Getting repainted in 1.5 months because of hail damage and I want a yellow splash on the side so it works out :-)

Over all, I'm very very happy with my car and would reccomend it to anyone.

Zoom Zoom Zoom Baby Yeah!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th August, 2002

2001 Mazda Protege ES 2.0 from North America


Nice in a lot of ways, but overall unrefined and illogical


The car is notably too new to have developed any marked problems, but I have noticed a squeak from the right rear suspension when going over bumps in the road.

General Comments:

Get ready for an extensive rant and rave folks! This is detail...

The exterior and interior appearance of this car is brilliant; I.e. really cool. Aside from that, however, I've been disappointed with many of this car's characteristics to date:

There is no usable center arm rest. The storage bin they have in between the seats is too low and short to have any use as an arm rest, and that's a LAME, uncomfortable design.

The lock mechanisms are outdated and incredibly stupid -- You can't rest your arm on the car door with the window down, as the lock pokes you right in the arm. They should have put the locks as part of the door handle (like in my old Nissan Sentra), NOT on the top of the door.

The engine is noisy and unrefined, hands down. Starting it up in the morning sounds like you're running a diesel engine, and that flat out sucks. It's also underpowered for a car Mazda wants you to think should compete with the likes of Subaru's Impreza, Honda's Civic, Nissan's new Sentra (particularly the SE-R), etc.. It looks vastly better than all of those cars (especially the Civic, which I think is the ugliest car Honda has ever produced in modern times).

The transmission is NOT as nice as my old Nissan Sentra's -- The Protege's shifter (apparently made by Ford; no wonder it sucks), is notchy, and, even worse than that, is geared to be wasteful, loud, and incredibly annoying. An engine RPM of 3500 at normal, boring, freeway speeds!? (70 MPH) Not only is the engine noisy at that RPM (as if it's quiet any other time, anyway), it's also a waste of fuel in a time when *saving* fuel is what we need to do here. In my perhaps not so humble opinion, I think Mazda engineers were morons to set up a gear ratio in that range for normal driving speeds. EVERY other car I've ever seen drives at around 2500 RPM at 70 MPH: What the hell was Mazda thinking? Scratch that -- I guess they *weren't* thinking.

And another thing regarding the gear ratios: What's up with the speedometer going up to 140? NO WAY the Protege is going up to 140 when it's already whining away at 3500 RPM at 70 MPH. Thanks for nothing in that regard, Mazda. The high RPM level at relatively low speed is my single most hated characteristic of this car. It's bad, really bad, and Mazda should be served with a class action lawsuit for wasting our fuel, money, and shortening the life of the engine because it has to work so comparatively hard at slow speeds. This represents a gross and negligent lack of care for matters that should be simple common sense.

The speedometer is labeled in weird, 20 mile increments. 65 MPH, a standard freeway speed throughout the nation, isn't labeled at all. You have to sort of approximate where that is. Good one, Mazda!

The rear window defogger works slowly, and has no auto off timer (My Sentra did).

The driver's seat belt was improperly mounted -- It has an extra twist in it that's both unsafe and uncomfortable.

The charcoal black interior color looks really cool... until you try to keep it clean. Anything and everything, like lint, hair, etc., shows up right away on every surface. That's going to be problematic, to be sure.

Things I really like?

As said, it looks awesome. Well done in that regard.

Safety equipment is nearly as good as it gets in any car: 4 wheel disc ABS, side impact airbags, belt pretensioners, child safety locks in the back, child safety seat anchors, etc.. It's rated well in impacts.

The seats are comfortable.

For a small car, the Protege is very roomy, both in front AND back; a rare, and appreciated, characteristic.

Power everything: Awesome.

Instrument cluster at night is lit in cool, soft red overtones which are easily readable. The only thing cooler is the VW Jetta's blue lighting -- Never seen anything cooler than that, personally. Too bad VW's are so expensive and historically unreliable (reflected by the absolute worst warranty in the entire auto industry).

And speaking of warranties, the 3 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper Mazda backing is better than the industry standard. That's a good thing; You might need it. The jury's still out on my particular car as I haven't had it long enough to discover its true problem areas. Time will tell...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 15th October, 2001

2nd Dec 2001, 07:57

If the ergonomics are so bad, then why did you buy it?

14th Dec 2001, 16:06

I tend to be rather critical and make due note of things that reflect poor engineering, but, indeed, perhaps the tone of my previous post might have better been rendered with more temperate disposition.

That said, despite its many shortcomings, the Protege is still a fun car to drive, in general.

Other specific reasons for the purchase:

There are no competitors in terms of appearance. It combines elements of European styling with modestly aggressive lines that epitomizes my personal preference in a vehicle look. I wish it wasn't the case, but I think the new Honda Civic is heinous. Dang did they screw that great car up. The Toyota Corolla is among the most boring automobiles currently available. The Ford Focus? That's the ugliest car I've ever seen in my entire life (and it's woefully unreliable), and I can't believe there's even a single person on this planet who went out and voluntarily bought that thing with their hard earned money. God help them! There are no other cars in the Protege's class that even compare in appearance, save perhaps the new Hyndai Elantra GT, which looks like a Saab in my opinion. That's a cool looking car.

Mazda has established the Protege as a reliable vehicle. The FS-DE engine, despite its terrible lack of refinement, should hold up well. Body hardware, electrical components, and fit and finish should prove worthy of the investment. Comparative contrast: Chevrolet Cavalier. That car sucks in every way and should be an embarrassment to modern vehicular civilization.

I'm not a racer or hot-rodder by any means, but the Protege handles very, very well. It affords excellent outward visibility of your surroundings. It also incorporates nearly every current safety feature that can be had in a car, is rated very well in impacts, and I secured these features for a price that couldn't be touched by any other worthy manufacturer. I'd have otherwise had to pay a lot more. That carries a lot of weight in my book, so the Protege won my primary consideration and ultimate purchase based thereon.

As I said earlier, other than the lame (pretty much non-existent) center arm rest, and the sad door lock placement, the Protege is quite a comfortable car. It has a larger feel on the inside than any other in its class. That's good.

Now I have to reiterate the things that flat out suck in this vehicle:

The engine is extremely noisy, and such is a characteristic that surprises me from a Japanese build. I'd expect lack of refinement from, say, Ford or Dodge, famous for obnoxious 4-cylinder engines (read, Neon for instance), but not from Mazda. My old Nissan Sentra (GA16DE engine) has always been exceptionally smooth and quiet (it still is-- I haven't endeavored to sell it yet). Flat out, it's a great engine, and exemplifies refinement, efficiency and reliability. I expect the 2 liter engine in my Protege to be equally reliable, but it won't do so with the same civil smoothness that Sentra's 1.6 liter engine did. I've also had rather extensive experience with the Nissan SR20DE 2 liter engine that came standard in the somewhat legendary SE-R Sentras of the early 90's, and that engine also outclasses the Protege's without batting an eye. Starting up the Protege from a cold state continues to resemble the wonderful clanking of a diesel engine, or maybe a garbage disposal with a spoon in it. That sucks and Mazda should be ashamed for releasing an engine that poorly rendered.

The transmission is totally unacceptable. It's a bit notchy feeling, but that's not the problem. The problem stems from its total lack of mating to the engine. At normal highway speeds you're *way* over the industry norm in RPM's. I've never seen anything like it: 3500 RPM at 65 MPH. I smell Ford's influence here: "Let's throw one of our transmissions, not specifically designed for the Protege, in this car on the cheap and save a few bucks. Who cares about efficiency, quiet operation, or engine longevity?". The parties responsible for this transmission should be flogged, or at least publicly berated by GreenPeace fossil fuel conservation apologists.

The bottom line regarding this car and my purchase choice: Life has to be a series of compromises. For lack of anything else in the price range that I could afford in a new car, the Protege was the best balance of what I wanted. That's why I bought it. That, however, doesn't give Mazda a free license to light fire to my vehicular dreams. The Protege has some pretty serious shortcomings and I'd buy something else in a heartbeat if there were any other worthy options. The Honda Civic is a better car, but it's too expensive and is too ugly. Let's not even talk about the Ford Focus, shall we? I'm gonna be sick! Corolla-- One word: Boring! Hyndai-- They haven't established a documented record of reliability, so forget them. As said, I otherwise like the new Elantra GT, though. Dodge, Chevrolet (anything GM, for that matter, including Saturn), Daewoo, Kia-- They all suck and I refuse to waste my time or money on them. Nissan is also too boring these days, except maybe for the 'soon to be re-released' SE-R. That's too expensive in any event. Subarus are cool but also too expensive, and, to boot, I dislike the look of the new Imprezas. Those round headlights are a big "R" for Retarded. All European makes are too expensive, and I wouldn't yet consider the cheapest available European cars yet; Volkswagen. VW's used to suck beyond comparison, then they were mediocre at best, now the latest Passat is above average (thanks to VW cannibalizing Audi technology, not their own). VW has also improved their warranty to extend beyond the industry standard (a move I consider quite excellent). They still haven't proven themselves for long enough to be worthy of one's trust and money, though, so forget them.

Except for that persistent squeak from the rear suspension, to date there have been no mechanical problems with 1850 miles on the vehicle. This is a trend, based on my pre-purchase research, that I expect to continue for as long as I own this car...

2001 Mazda Protege ES 2.0 DOHC from North America


I like the interior and exterior styling of the car, but I would trade it for a more reliable car


My driver's side mirror was replaced at less than 2,000 miles.

My fuel ecomony is falling to at or below 21 mpg. I can't seem to get anymore out if it than that. And I do most of my driving on the highway. I seem to get better gas economy driving at slower speeds in stop and go traffic, at the same distance as driving on the highway.

The car doesn't like to go over speeds of 65 mph or greater than 3,000 rpm, anymore. I am either having problems with my transmission, engine or other supporting parts. And it is only getting worse the more I drive it. The car also seems to have lost power. It drives like my 1993 Protege 1.6 Liter SOHC engine, it doesn't pick up as fast as it used to.

I have taken it to the dealers, however, they haven't found anything.

I did have a problem with service at one dealership, but all the others have been fine.

The Dunlop tires that came with the car are not good in wet weather, so I have to take care when it's wet.

General Comments:

I love the interior, it fits me well. The buttons on the radio are of a good size for any kind of hands, and it's nicely positioned.

The handling is nice.

Not everyone is going the like the stiffer shocks, even though it makes the car much better in cornering. The 16 inch tires help too.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th September, 2001