Mazdaspeed Protege

Protege, by Callaway.

The first street-legal vehicle to fall under the performance brand name Mazdaspeed, the 2003 Mazdaspeed Protege is everything the limited-production Protege MP3 should have been. Because of some extreme compact-car competition from the likes of the Ford SVT Focus and the Honda Civic Si, Mazda's 140-horsepower MP3 was comparatively shorthanded, so the quick fix was a call to Connecticut-based performance tuner Callaway Cars. The most notable of Callaway's tweaks is the turbocharger that feeds the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which helps bring output to a respectable 170 horsepower. Other enhancements include a limited-slip differential, a stouter clutch, and a few suspension and cosmetic updates. It goes on sale late this year as a 2003 model. It might be a good idea to get your order in early; Mazda plans to limit first-year North American sales to a mere 2000 units.

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