2003 Mazda Protege PR5 2.0 liter 4 cylinder from North America


Excellent choice in compact car


Nothing that is manufacturers fault. Someone keyed the car because of my Kerry-Edwards bumpersticker.

General Comments:

Excellent car! It is the very best I've driven. Prior to this car, I've usually driven Volvos and VWs, but I decided to go Japanese this time. The car handles extremely well. Very tight steering feel and it takes corners at much higher speeds without any instability than any other car I've ever had.

The seats are firm, which I like. The ride is firm, and that doesn't bother me. I have had some passengers complain about the ride.

The quality of the materials used appears to be very high. There are no squeaks or rattles (unlike my old Volvo 240) and everything looks carefully assembled.

The gas mileage is pretty good, but could be better for a 4 cylinder. The car is also noisy in a nice sort of way. I like it, some others may not.

The local Mazda dealership is great. The service department is very knowledgable and helpful when I've taken it in for routine maintenance.

The cargo area is very roomy and so is the backseat. It is a capable family car in addition to being pretty sporty and fun.

I am fairly certain I will look at mazda next time I, but a car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th February, 2005

2003 Mazda Protege ES 2.0L 16v from North America


Economical, fun, solid


Water infiltration in the trunk, following an accident. Faulty bodywork is to blame.

General Comments:

I was a big VW fanatic before I bought this car. I loved my 1990 8v Jetta like no other car I've had. Too bad I couldn't keep it on the road with 280 000KMs.

Of all the new cars I tried, this was the closest in spirit to my beloved A2 Jetta. The new VWs feel heavy and sloppy in comparaison. The Protege has that same light, precise, whole feel to it. It's got less character, but has fewer flaws as well.

The biggest gripe most people have with this car at first is the engine. For being a DOHC 16V 2.0L, it doesn't impress. I thought this at first as well, but it has really improved once properly broken in.

The beauty of this engine is it's smooth, torquey mid-range. It gets going pretty good starting at 2500RPM, and you can rev it to 4500RPM before you start to hear or feel anything. The short ratio gear box keeps you in the sweet spot, only dropping about 600rpms between shifts. The trick is to shift above 3000 so you don't drop out of the powerband (2500+) in the next gear. Once broken in, it revs to 7000RPM pretty easily, though there is little power made after about 6500. It's pretty fun to scream onto an onramp, but you won't be beating Camaros.

In cold weather the engine starts well, but runs rough untill warmed up. It also takes a while to give off heat to the cabin. This is one area where my Jetta, and it's heated velour seats, will be missed.

The suspension is great. Cornering it very flat, and the ride is firm, but smooth. The brakes are smooth and very powerful. It takes some getting used to at first. With the performance tires it comes with, this car really does corner and brake like a sports car.

The interior is very comfortable, the front seats especially. Everything looks great, love the Nardi designed steering wheel, the white guages and the overall presentation. The ventilation system works well, with heat ducts to the back seats and big simple dials. The stock stereo wasn't great, but it does have a big speaker sizes so it's easily upgraded. The rears seat splits 40/60, and every sedan out there should. It's ridiculous that some newer cars don't.

Last thing I want to mention is how cheap this car is to run. I haven't had one single mechanical issue. The parts are cheap, it's easy to work on, the insurance is cheap, it runs on regular gas just fine, requires minimal maintenance and loves to be driven hard.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th December, 2004