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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
by Greg Wilson

With its tuned suspension, sticky 17 inch tires, unique interior, built-in MP3 player and limited availability, the 2001 Mazda Protegé MP3 had everything going for it – except horsepower. Its 140 horsepower 2.0 litre four was just not good enough to challenge stock Jetta 1.8T's, Sentra SE-R's, or Neon R/T's.

Not surprising then that Mazda has pumped up the horsepower rating for 2003. The 2003 MazdaSpeed Protegé, developed by Mazda's performance parts division, is the turbocharged successor to the MP3. Available in the fourth quarter of 2002, and limited to only 2,000 vehicles for the U.S. and Canada, the 2003 MazdaSpeed Protegé will offer an intercooled, turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder engine with an estimated 170 horsepower, and a performance package including limited-slip differential, ultra low-profile tires, larger wheels, and more powerful European-specification four-wheel disc brakes.

The car features a deep front spoiler with large round foglights, Racing Hart five-spoke alloys, aero side sills and rear skirts and will be available in two exterior colours: Black Mica and MazdaSpeed's unique Spicy Orange.

Inside, there are unique features like silver-faced analog gauges, aluminum Sparco foot pedals and shift knob, and a seven-speaker 450-watt Kenwood MP3 audio system with a large subwoofer mounted under the package shelf in the trunk.

"The MazdaSpeed Protegé was initiated by a group of Mazda engineers in the United States who are hard-core enthusiasts," said Charlie Hughes, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations at the New York auto show. "They've taken everything that made the MP3 an automotive-press superstar and engineered it to the next highest level."

Mazda selected Callaway Cars to assist its engineers in turbocharging the Mazda 2.0 litre DOHC 16 valve inline 4 cylinder engine. A Garrett T25 turbocharger system incorporates the latest in aerodynamic and ball-bearing technology. As well, the MazdaSpeed Protegé has a Tochigi Fuji Sangyo KK Super Limited-Slip Differential, assisted by larger 24 mm driveshafts (versus 22mm for the standard Protegé). There's also a heavy-duty clutch disc and pressure plate to handle the increased horsepower from the turbocharging system.

Racing Beat, a well-known tuner of Mazda vehicles for more than 30 years, was asked to lend its expertise in chassis refinement, suspension upgrades and a high-performance rear muffler. The MazdaSpeed Protegé comes with specially engineered front MacPherson struts, a strut tower brace, higher rate coil springs, re-valved Tokico dampers, and larger diameter stabilizer bar bracket and bushings.

The rear suspension features Racing Beat-tuned independent struts with Twin Trapezoidal Links (TTL), coil springs and larger stabilizer bar. The special Tokico shocks have been designed to improve steering feedback and response, control excess chassis motion and keep the tires planted firmly on the road surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
One of Japan's best performance wheel manufacturers, Racing Hart, developed a set of exclusive alloy wheels for the MP3 in 2001. For the 2003 MazdaSpeed Protegé, Racing Hart developed an exclusive 17 x 7-inch five-spoke design in alloy with Aluminum Super Silver finish.

Standard tires are Bridgestone Potenza RE040 215/45ZR17 uni-directional high-performance tires.

The interior of the car was developed in collaboration with Sparco, a racing accessory manufacturer. It features racing-inspired components such as drilled aluminum foot pedals with rubber inserts for better heel-and-toe control and an aluminum Sparco shift knob to make shifting the close-ratio five-speed gearbox with its shortened throws even more fun. Other changes to the interior include silver-faced analogue gauges, suede-like seat bolsters and leather-wrapped Nardi steering wheel with colour-keyed stitching.

For the stereo, Mazda again turned to Kenwood Car Audio, the company responsible for the first-ever OEM MP3 system in last year's Mazda MP3. The MazdaSpeed Protegé features a new in-dash CD/MP3 receiver - the Kenwood Excelon KDC-MP919. This powerful 450-watt, four-channel (50-watts per channel) system features six speakers, an eight-inch subwoofer and a 250-watt amplifier. Both the subwoofer and amplifier are mounted under the package shelf in the trunk. The Excelon KDC-MP919 allows customers to listen to standard AM/FM radio stations or play conventional CDs and MP3-encoded CD-R/RWs.

The Kenwood KDC-MP919 has a motorized self-hiding faceplate that doesn't appear until the ignition is turned on. Before leaving the vehicle, the driver has the option of either removing the faceplate entirely for added security, or letting it automatically disappear from view by simply switching off the ignition.

The KDC-MP919's MegaMotion Display readout provides high-resolution visuals and moving images. Plus, the unit is pre-wired to accept Sirius Satellite Radio, which includes 100 digital channels of music, talk and news beamed down by three satellites for national coverage. Built-in high- and low-pass electronic crossovers allow the driver to control the range of signals sent to the speakers. System Q Sound Control provides five pre-set EQ curves (e.g., rock, jazz, etc.) and three speaker-matching EQ curves for tone tailoring.

Each of the four 50-watt amplifiers supply the muscle, and the 4.5V pre-outs provide superior signal-to-noise performance. With an optional adapter, Dual-Zone Source Control provides separate source and volume control for front and rear. For even easier operation, the Kenwood system uses a round volume control knob.

In addition to the MazdaSpeed Protegé, Mazda North America plans to expand the MazdaSpeed line of competition parts already available to racers and will add a complete line of performance-enhancing parts and accessories for street use that will include some of the hardware used on the Mazda MP3 and MazdaSpeed Protegé. MazdaSpeed dealers will also offer a selection of special MazdaSpeed clothing.

"The MazdaSpeed Protegé will drive the Mazda attributes - performance, handling and styling - to an even higher level," said Charlie Hughes, president and CEO of MNAO. "Most important, MazdaSpeed will bring a tremendous smile to every Mazda enthusiast in America."
 

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Lookout for these things: They come severely handicapped from the factory with the stock-restrictive MP3 exhaust and only spin at 6psi. A turbo exhaust and a boost controller will do MUCH for this thing.
 
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