A Brief Look at the Mazda Protege

The Mazda Protege is a compact car produced by the Japanese automaker Mazda. The vehicle has a rich history and is lauded for its reliability, affordability, and overall value. First introduced in 1963, the Mazda Protege has undergone several generations of changes and evolution in the decades that followed. This article will provide an in-depth examination of the various Mazda Protege model generations.

First Generation: Familia/323 (1963-1967)

The Mazda Protege was initially known as the Familia in its home market of Japan and the 323 in many export markets. The first-generation Protege was introduced in 1963 as a compact family car. The model was available as a four-door sedan, two-door coupe, two-door wagon, and as a convertible. The first-generation Mazda Protege was powered by a 782cc water-cooled OHV engine that produced 33 horsepower. In 1965, Mazda introduced an optional 1.0-liter engine for the model that produced 68 horsepower, which was quite impressive for its time.

Second Generation: Familia/323 (1967-1977)

The second-generation Mazda Protege, known as the Familia/323, was introduced in 1967. The model was updated with a more contemporary design, and It was available as a sedan, coupe, wagon, and as a van. Changes to the second generation included an updated engine and transmission lineup and a new independent front suspension system. In 1970, a Mazda Protege with rotary engine technology was introduced, which was quite innovative.

Third Generation: Familia/323/GLC (1977-1980)

The third-generation Mazda Protege, known as the Familia/323/GLC, was introduced in 1977. The model was updated with a redesigned exterior and interior and was offered as a four-door sedan, two-door coupe, wagon, and a five-door hatchback. The third generation also marked the introduction of the long-running GLC trim line, which stood for ‘Great Little Car.’ The GLC trim line was praised for its fuel economy, reliability, affordability, and overall value.

Fourth Generation: Familia/323/Protege (1980-1994)

The fourth-generation Mazda Protege, also known as the Familia/323/Protege, was introduced in 1980. The model was offered as a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. The Protege was lauded for its style, handling, and overall value. The fourth-generation Protege was offered with a variety of engine options, including a 1.5-liter, 1.6-liter, and 1.8-liter engine option. In 1991, Mazda introduced the 2.0-liter Protege GT, which featured a new sportier attitude and increased horsepower.

Fifth Generation: Protege/323 (1994-1998)

The fifth-generation Mazda Protege, known as the Protege/323, was introduced in 1994. The model was again available as a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. This generation of the Protege was more refined than previous versions, with improvements in driving dynamics, performance, and overall comfort. The fifth-generation Protege was available with two engine options, a 1.5-liter and a 1.8-liter. The 1.8-liter engine was coupled with a sport-tuned suspension system in the Protege ES model, making for a fun and spirited driving experience.

Sixth Generation: Protege (1999-2003)

The sixth-generation Mazda Protege was introduced in 1999. It was initially only available as a four-door sedan but would later be offered as a five-door hatchback. This model of the Protege was praised for its excellent handling, well-equipped interior, and good fuel economy. The Protege was diverging from its previous compact design and was moving towards becoming a more significant mid-size sedan. There were 3 trim levels, ES, LX, and DX, with differences in engine capacity and features. This model’s standout feature was the optional 5-speed manual transmission, which transformed the basic sedan into a fun driving experience.

Seventh Generation: Protege (2003-2004)

The seventh-generation Mazda Protege was introduced in 2003, and it was the last Mazda Protege to be produced. The model was offered as a four-door sedan and was praised for its attractive styling, impressive safety features, and excellent handling. The final Mazda Protege model had only minor changes from the sixth generation, such as a new grille and headlights. Fourth-generation Mazda Protege models featured sporty exterior trims such as rocker panel mouldings, rear spoiler, and alloy wheels available depending on grade.

RunBidSell Insights

Over the decades, the Mazda Protege has evolved into a reliable, affordable, and versatile model that has earned the respect of many drivers worldwide. Each generation of the Mazda Protege has added new features, technology, and innovation. Mazda continuously improved its game by responding to driver feedback and investing in advanced design and engineering, resulting in a long-lasting and beloved vehicle that is still in use all around the globe today. While there are no more Mazda Protege car models produced, the legacy that it has left behind is outstanding. The Mazda Protege vehicle models have indeed been a staple of the automobile industry, and its history and evolution deserve recognition.


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