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Cons: paint quality
Advice: shop around, see if you can have the car for the weekendPower from the engine is good as is the suspension. The only real flaws I report are the rear bushing wear out too quickly, they can be replaced from Mazda free of charge. The other is the paint job. It is too thin, I think they could've added another coat of paint and the clear. Last, the dash rattled when being ridden on uneven roads, they still have not figured out what is wrong.
Pros: The suspension is perfect (so is the engine and the interior and the exterior . . .)
Cons: The graphics on the radio are a bit much - especially at night - and no clock!
Advice: Buy it before the $2000.00 rebate ends. You will have no regrets.I needed an economical car for our growing family but wasn't ready for the appliance-like Civic/Accord/Camry. I still wanted something with some edge to it. This car fits that bill like no other. It rails through corners, has enough grunt to be real fun, and looks like it costs way more that it does. For the price - it has no equal. It's bursting with eye-candy; stereo, wheels, suspension - everything is great. Tokico/RacingBeat got the dampening values perfect - the ride is sporty, but not harsh like I thought it might be with the 17' wheels and 45 series tires. The interior is sporty, but not cheap. The combination of fabrics/materials (4 different textures on the interior door panels alone) show an extreme attention to detail - this is not a parts-bin car! I feel lucky to have decided to test drive it. I knw I would buy it 10 minutes into the test drive. . . This is a special car.
Pros: Sharp Shifter
Cons: Turbo Lag
Advice: Check SRT-4 firstOn this day, I tested a variety of 2003 'Hot Rods' in the $20K and under price range: the Mazdaspeed turbo Protege, the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V, and the Hyundai Elantra 5 door GT. (listed in order of my favorite) I currently drive a 2001 Nissan Maxima and am looking for something with flatter handling, better economy, and just plain more fun. The Mazdaspeed fits all my requirements, including a solid factory stereo w/sub. It's the quickest of the 3 but you must wait for the turbo. Best feature is the shifter that you flick into gear and never miss. The Spec-V has awesome handling and feels like you can race it right off the lot. The engine is torquey and pulls hard but not as snappy as the turbo. The upgrade Rockford system is thunderous. HOWEVER, I could not tolerate the shifter, missed several shifts and was ultimately dissappointed. The Hyundai is absolutely pitiful. I enjoy driving my 1986 Trooper w/240K miles and a tired engine more. If you must have a new car and only have $10, don't. This car wallows, accelerates slow, and every part of it is made in the same factory that makes Happy Meal toys. Conclusion: My Max is still number one even after 2.5 years and 33K miles. The power is always there, even going 80 to 100 on a 2-lane, up hill. You simply cannot surpass a legendary V-6 like the Maxima. The room, quiet, comfort all pamper you. BUT I want more fun in a car, something darty so will keep testing. Next up: Toyota Matrix XRS, Dodge Neon SRT-4, Subaru WRX.
Cons: No Cruise (not even an option)
Advice: If your just looking for all out power don't buy it. If you want a car that will out handle that Vet in the lane next to you, get it.I had driven all the comparable cars but this one is the complete package. The engine may not be the strongest of the group (it has the lowest HP on paper of the group). But the handling, interior and fit and finish were amazing. Its fast when it needs to be but the best part is no matter how fast your going you can take a corner at that speed. (p.s. Look hard at the 03.5, it has no fog lamps and a diffrent rear spoiler. It takes away from the uniqueness of the car.
Pros: The sheer power and speed. It's got a torque buck to it, but as long as you're aware it's just all the more satisfying.
Cons: The color accenting on the inside, and the choice of exterior colors.
Advice: Get it quick! There's only 2000 being released in the US and 2/3rds of those are spicy orange.I just got my black mazdaspeed and I absolutely love it. The Orange is a beautiful color, but just not for me. It's got a bit more sparkle then the black, however. The interior is really sharp, I was hoping on all silver like the orange model, but instead there are brown accents on the steeringwheel and a few other areas, but silver most everywhere else. It handles like butta, stops on a dime, and there's a real sturdy hold on the road. Drives wonderfully, my dream car!