Mazda produced a winner with its MP3 limited edition tricked-out Proteg. That success was followed by the Proteg 5 wagon, which had the same aspirations as the MP3 but with more versatility and higher sales volume expectations. For the follow up to the MP3, Mazda really stepped it up by adding boost to its Mazdaspeed Proteg. The company plans to build 2,000 units and the car should be in showrooms in September.
The lucky few to land a Mazdaspeed Proteg will be able to put the wood to the competition. The Mazda's 2.0-liter, 16-valve powerplant is boosted via a Garrett T25 turbocharger system developed by Callaway. The turbocharger incorporates the latest in aerodynamic and ball-bearing technology and the system runs an intercooler for added reliability. The engine is estimated to generate 170 hp at the flywheel and it retains its original 9.1:1 compression ratio and stock internals.
A Tochigi Fuji Sangyo KK Super LSD, assisted by upgraded 24mm driveshafts (vs. 22mm for the standard Proteg) and a heavy-duty clutch disc and pressure plate means that boost-lusting drivers can drop the hammer at will with total peace of mind.
In the vein of the MP3, the Mazdaspeed Proteg runs big custom wheels and a lowered suspension. Racing Hart, which developed its first set of Mazda-exclusive alloy wheels for the Mazda MP3 in 2001, was asked for a repeat performance on the Mazdaspeed Proteg. The company developed an entirely new wheel, an exclusive five-spoke design in alloy with aluminum silver finish. The 17x7 Racing Harts roll on Bridgestone Potenza RE040 215/45ZR-17 high-performance tires.
Working together as they did with the MP3, Mazda and Racing Beat focused their efforts on chassis refinement, suspension upgrades and a high-performance rear muffler. The result is a sport compact sedan with even better handling and overall performance than its predecessor. The Mazdaspeed Proteg comes complete with specially engineered front MacPherson struts, a strut tower brace, higher rate coil springs, re-valved Tokico dampers, and a larger diameter stabilizer bar. The rear suspension boasts Racing Beat-tuned independent struts with Twin Trapezoidal Links (TTL), coil springs and larger anti-roll bar.
The Mazdaspeed driver is surrounded by a Sparco interior. From a Sparco bucket seat, the driver grips a Sparco shifter and dances on Sparco aluminum pedals. A Nardi steering wheel keeps the show under control while a silver-faced gauge cluster relays vital information. The car's 450-watt audio system testifies that the Mazdaspeed Proteg's big power persona goes beyond the engine bay. The 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. One of the most versatile audio systems ever offered, the Excelon KDC-MP919 allows users to listen to standard AM/FM radio stations or play conventional CDs and MP3-encoded CD-R/RWs. The Kenwood KDC-MP919 has a fully 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. It's a pretty cool set-up.
In fact, the whole Mazdaspeed Proteg is a cool set-up. It illustrates that turbos are coming back into favor with OEs and whenever you have a turbo, you have the ultimate weapon for making really crazy power. Let the tuning begin.