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Old 06-09-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
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Default '03 mazdaspeed protege, pros cons?

My brother is looking to pick up a cheap daily driver and is considering an '03 mazdaspeed protege. Tell me the scoop on these tiny turbo cars please!

I told him to get a subaru but he's about the better fuel economy of the FWD mazda and there's one for sale locally for cheap. But I don't know if these cars should be avoided, or tuning options, etc. Anyone have experience with these cars?
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:32 AM   #2
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If left stock, go for it.

I sold mine because to get the power I wanted, it would cost too much.

www.mazdas247.com is a good reference.

Great car to drive though, comfy, quick, looked nice...
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:41 AM   #3
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My dad has had one since new and loves it, it's his track car. He had to repack the wheel bearings with synthetic grease and that's it. I've driven it and it's peppy but doesn't have a lot of power in stock form (I think about 175 from factory). He put on an intake and 3" turbo back exhaust but it's pretty boomy inside the cabin after that.

He gets great gas mileage if he stays out of the turbo. I think up to 34mpg on the highway.

The suspension is pretty dang good from the factory, you can tell it's a nose heavy car around tight corners as it likes to understeer (like Turn 7 hairpin at Sebring). The car is cheap and tough, kinda like a miata, and replacement parts are also inexpensive. I don't see any problems with it, as long as the previous owner didn't try to modify it too much.
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:49 AM   #4
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IMO, the mazdaspeed protege was not well executed. The turbo kit was designed by a 3rd party and bolted on at port. It wasn't a true factory turbo car, and doesn't feel like one. The dealer support can also be finicky, because the turbo specific parts are not listed in the normal Mazda EPC (they're in a special MazdaSpeed EPC that not all dealers have, or at least not all parts counter guys want to mess with). Not helping, there was also a turbo system revision at some point.

I prefer the protege5, or the newer Mazda3, especially the wagon. The 3 sedans can be had for CHEAP.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:49 AM   #5
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A couple "friends of friends" have them and they hate them. I've driven a couple and hated them too. Didn't even know it when I drove them, but what Ben says now totally makes sense: the car even feels like it was designed by different companies trying to go in different directions with it.

Around here they are being re-sold dirt cheap too because people just want to unload them.

The speed3, if he can afford one, is a much better car if he wants to "keep it mazda". Otherwise, you know my default for perfect daily driver is "get a subaru"
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:02 PM   #6
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I've looked at both the Protege5 and the Mazdaspeed Protege for daily drivers and what I've found after small amounts of research is "avoid them like the plague"...

Apparently the motors (I forget the family code) are not nearly as stout as the BP motors or the newer motors in the 3s. For protege5s I kept reading that if you could find one with over 100k that didn't have a bad oil consumption habit you were lucky. The mazdaspeeds have the same motor but with a poorly executed turbo system.

I vote for trying to find a decently priced early Mazda 3
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:03 PM   #7
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Cliffs notes:

Pros : Cheap

Cons : Everything else
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:18 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. What about the tunability of the OEM ECU? Suby's have a fantastic freeware to hack the ecu for whatever. Anything similar for the mazda?
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:06 PM   #9
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Not to **** all over this thread, but arent Protegé know for blowing up?
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:09 PM   #10
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IIRC the turbo kit was a Callaway design. The problem was the LSD** in the transmission and clutches....but those seem to be problems with people cranking up the boost. AFAIK if left mostly stock, they're not bad "fun"ish cars. Though it was an "aftermarket" deal, we all know how much Mazda screwed up on the MSM for a factory built turbo car.

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...tege-road_test


** We all know the T-F diff in the 03 Miata was kinda junky, it seems Mazda used a similar T-F diff in the MSP.
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:33 AM   #11
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My homeboy has one and it's a huge pile of ****. The callaway manifold has cracked more times than habitual LSD users. The car is lucky to see 6 psi and have 2, 4, or R on a good day.

Ask aricjm(somenumbers) on this forum. He's very familiar with them.

I'd buy a badass diesel truck if I was your bro. If he thinks his Saturn went braap, let him drive a hopped-up pollution machine.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
Apparently the motors (I forget the family code) are not nearly as stout as the BP motors or the newer motors in the 3s.
FSDE. Not as stout at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTim View Post
Thanks guys. What about the tunability of the OEM ECU? Suby's have a fantastic freeware to hack the ecu for whatever. Anything similar for the mazda?
Sucks.

The best option for a piggy back is a custom made unit by Split Second. An MSP forum guy had this unit made up by them, IIRC.

http://www.protegegarage.com/866-spl...d-protege.html

Other options are piggybacking an AEM FIC, etc.

MS is out, unless you want to run it in parallel, as the dash cluster, A/C, alt, etc is driven by the factory ECU.
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:33 PM   #13
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I have worked on, torn down, and built many of these cars. The turbo is a journal bearing 2554. A gt2860 can be bolted on in its place. The plastic charge pipes suck ***, commonly the nipple to the bypass valve cracks off because it was only glued on. Metal pipes can be had for cheap. The rear sway bar bushings go bad all the ******* time. The trans has a limited slip in it, they are not the greatest and under huge amounts of stress have been known to break off of the ring gear.
The exhaust manifolds like to un-bolt themselves from the head, get a 12mm wrench and grind the part behind the box end down a bit, it will make tightening them much easier.

Depending on how you work it out, it is possible to see 250hp out of it without blowing the ever loving **** out of it. The FS engine is not nearly as robust as the BP, you will want to make sure whatever tune you have is good.

The factory ecu sucks ***, the split second is easy to tune and use. I would recommend getting one even if you do not plan on doing much to the car, it makes for a much better driving experience.

The website linked above is my brother's. If you want/need any parts or have any questions about these cars feel free to ask.
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:00 PM   #14
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I just unloaded mine at a shitty price, it was more trouble than its worth. Anemic rods, grenade of a diff, terribly designed turbo system, enormous ecu problems(fuel cut, ect), and this was all stock btw. The only redeeming quality of that car is how it looks stock.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:19 PM   #15
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IMO the MSP was the precurser to the gen2 ms3, you know, the goofy retard-smiling **** car.
nothin like a stock turbo car that would blow if you put more than 250whp out of it. Go with something else.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pusha View Post
My homeboy has one and it's a huge pile of ****. The callaway manifold has cracked more times than habitual LSD users. The car is lucky to see 6 psi and have 2, 4, or R on a good day.

Ask aricjm(somenumbers) on this forum. He's very familiar with them.

I'd buy a badass diesel truck if I was your bro. If he thinks his Saturn went braap, let him drive a hopped-up pollution machine.
lol, how'd you know my plate / saturn went braap? i'm officially off of the protoge kick. thanks to all for the input
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Old 06-16-2011, 03:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panicrev View Post
lol, how'd you know my plate / saturn went braap? i'm officially off of the protoge kick. thanks to all for the input
I used to take ***** in Lakewood.
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:02 PM   #18
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MS3 is exponentially better. I've seen a few at the track over the years and in all seriousness, I've never seen one leave under it's own power. I'd put it in the Audi TT reliability group.
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hustler View Post
MS3 is exponentially better. I've seen a few at the track over the years and in all seriousness, I've never seen one leave under it's own power. I'd put it in the Audi TT reliability group.
Are you putting the MS3 or the MSP in the Audi TT reliability group?
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Are you putting the MS3 or the MSP in the Audi TT reliability group?
MSP. Late 1st gen MS3's are supposed to be pretty solid.
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