"I've owned this car for 12 years. There is a part on the undercarriage that isn't cheap that I've had to replace twice (I now carry a spare) because it was designed without protection, it gets damaged by heat, road wear, etc. The front wheels are tied together with a stabilizer bar that makes for jerky driving in some conditions. I've always felt like I've been wrestling with this car. But it has transported kids, dogs, plants etc. over the years and been a good sport about my driving (mountain roads; fast) without stranding me. It gets good gas mileage and takes regular gas. The stereo has a very smooth slot loading (CD) mechanism, which I've always appreciated, as I listen to books on tape constantly, but the tracking is iffy on bumpy roads. The sun bakes the spoiler, apparently very common on this car, I see bubbled spoilers on all of these older Proteges."
"This one was built in Japan. I bought it when it was 1 year old in 2003. Nothing has ever failed or malfunctioned, this car does not even have a rattle. I replaced the timing belt/water pump and associated seals and parts. Also replaced the front struts when I figured they were worn, and realized I'd forgotten its super handling ability. It corners like it's on rails.
Learn the transmission and when to shift, and it's a fun quick little machine... or don't bother with fun and it's a grocery getter that will never fail."
"This car is very fun to drive, gets great gas mileage, even when pushed hard. Great styling interior and exterior. You can take this car to the track on the weekends and have a fantastic time. It rides like it's on rails. I have no complaints about my car at all. One of the best cars I have ever owned, and I have owned over 50 cars. I highly recommend this car to anyone lucky enough to find one in good running order with service records."
"I have used this car on long distance drives and it is very comfortable. It has no problems climbing hills and is a thrill if you get it on the back roads where you can run it through it's paces through all road conditions.
I get many compliments on mine because she gets much love and almost all my attention. I own 5 Hondas, and I would rather drive this Mazda.
It is a bit hard on the left leg and into the lower back being a 5 speed in the city and traffic during rush hours, but overall, it is a crown jewel in my collection."
"Ive owned my mp5 for 4 years now and have not had to deal with a single issue that was not regular maintenance related.
I still rate this car above your other imports from Asia, for the simple fact that Mazda has proven time and time again to be reliable, while giving just a little extra for performance.
My protege5 corners like its on rails, my civic LX cant take any same turn at 1/2 the speed, at least not with stock suspension.
is it the quickest car for its year/class ? probably not, but for overall performance, Id take a Mazda any day of the week and twice on Sunday."