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Pros: Corners like a champ
Cons: C'mon Mazda...how about a decent stereo? Sound stinks.
Advice: Upgrade the stereoThis is a fun car to drive, no doubt about it. I gave my 99 VW Jetta to my son for college and needed something at least as much fun to drive, but less expensive than 2002 Jettas. That led me to consider Protege5, Civic, Sentra and Elantra GT. The Elantra GT was just as much fun to drive, but...well, it's a Hyundai, no matter how far they supposedly have come since 'the bad days.' The Sentra (I've owned 2, the most recent 10 years ago) continues to disappoint. Nissan doesn't get it anymore...you shouldn't have to spend $19,000 to get a subcompact with a moonroof and ABS. The Honda...well, I think Honda hasn't had decent styling since the '80s. The Protege 5 isn't as good overall as the VW Jetta...but it's darn close, and better in some ways. First, the negative: The stereo truly stinks. I'm already checking out crutchfield.com and Good Guys catalog. There are only 4 speakers (most cars now have 6-7 even in this size). There also is quite a bit of wind noise from the open moonroof, particularly because of the roof rack bar immediately above it, I presume. But I got the 5-speed standard tranmission and that's definitely the way to go. This car corners better than anything I've ever driven and has plenty of pep in the standard tran. The interior is nicely done and the seats are the most comfortable I've seen in a subcompact. The styling both inside and out far surpasses Honda's offerings in the Civic or Accord. This car is a winner...but I still have a fond spot for my Jetta. At least it's in good hands (I hope) and my son is thrilled. It's a great car, too.
Pros: engine, ride, material quality inside and out
Cons: deprecitation, back seat room for tall guys
Advice: relatively unknown which leaves room for barginingclassic styling, great quality leather, great engine but mileage is so so, the base model's engine leaves it feeling like it is towing a boat(but it is smooth}, tight back seats, excellent interior material quality and perfect paint, awesome fit and finish, smooth and well controled ride but does have a tendancy to dive and squat slightly during accel/braking, all around I am very impressed with Mazda's 'unknown' luxury car.
Cons: no rear cupholders
Advice: get the 5 speed manual transmissionAfter trading in my 2000 Honda Civic Si coupe for a 2002 Mazda Protege5, I can honestly say that I am glad about this decision. Build quality is top notch and the 2.0 liter engine zings when stepped on hard. The 5 speed manual is a must. Do not even consider the automatic. The best feature of this new model is its looks. People everywhere will gaze at it and start up conversations. The interior is as cool as the exterior. Silver accents along with carbon fiber adorn the dash and the shifter is topped with a cool ball knob. All controls are logically placed and you do not need to look when activating them. I have only two gripes about the Protege5: no rear cupholders and the location of the driver's power lock button. The lock button is really uncomfortable to reach and activate. Other than these two gripes I can say that there is no other car on the market that offers so much for so little. Here are advantages that it has over the competition: 3 year/50,000 instead of 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. Another is roadside assistance at no extra charge. You have to pay for that with Honda. Also, getting 3.9% APR for 48 months financing was not bad either. You can look cool and still carry four other friends along with luggage. If anyone has questions that you would like to discuss in particular please do not hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to discuss my favorite topic: my Protege5.
Pros: The 3 spoke 'Nardi' steering wheel.
Cons: The seats
Advice: Get one with the 5speed. The automatic shouldn't even be an option!Test drove this vehicle June 7,2001. I was initially sceptical of a 5door 4cyl, but after driving for about 30min. I was won over! This car is a blast to drive and the 5spd manual is the way to go. The clutch is nice and tight and is smooth in it's travel. It makes you want to do as much 'heel-toeing' as possible. The engine pulls like a six despite it's small torque, but Mazda's 2.0L four outclasses all others with it's quietness and willingness to run with the big boys. The interior is functional and has the racer white gauges. The only drawback inside are the seats which I could never get comfortable in. But who cares?! I figure the seats will keep you focused on driving and not daydreaming. Other observations, and the most important when dealing with cars of this genre, are it's looks. Nothing on the road looks as cool as this car! The front grille is the smoothest since the 95 Legend, which I own, and has the 'rear-view' gawking factor. The body sits squat thanks to the combination on the low profile 16's and the body kit and the sport suspension. When cornering in this car, down shift and you'll grin from ear to ear! Hey, you'll even giggle. This is a car that will be talked about for years once others get a chance to drive one, I can guarantee it. Mazda has a car that will appeal to GenX'ers and 30somethings like myself and those into street mods. I'm 33 and thought I wanted a TL(Acura), but for 15,000 less I'll have much more fun and and not feel so guilty about it! Buy this car!!!