CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
2/5/18 1:33 p.m.

I'm wondering if anyone could weigh-in on these two cars. I found an MP3 with 140k for $3,500, and there's a 3 with around 90k for about the same price, but it has a few issues. Most of the 3s are around $5, but have fewer miles than the Protege. 

I'm looking for thoughts on feel (steering, pedals, shifter), and handling, as well as DD ability. 

I know the details on the two cars, I'm looking for real driving impressions. On paper, I like the idea of the MP3 (athletic suspension, rarer and could be enthusiast owned so better maintained, but as a downside, more flogged, might be owned by Vin Diesel). For the 3, I like the additional power, (probably) faster steering, and newer with less miles, but might be owned by someone who never changed the oil. 

Snrub
Snrub Reader
2/5/18 2:03 p.m.

IMO the first gen Mazda 3 was a very nice handling car for its time.  At the time it was the best driving car of the segment.  I haven't driven one lately.

fanfoy
fanfoy Dork
2/5/18 2:12 p.m.

Very different cars!

For DD ability, the 3 is the clear undeniable winner. It's better riding, quieter, has better MPG's and a much nicer interior. 

The 3 is also faster in everyway. The MP3's engine is a real letdown compared to the chassis. The MP3 is a lot of fun to drive around the cones though. The lack of an LSD is a little annoying, but the 3 has the same problem. 

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
2/5/18 3:19 p.m.
fanfoy said:

Very different cars!

For DD ability, the 3 is the clear undeniable winner. It's better riding, quieter, has better MPG's and a much nicer interior. 

The 3 is also faster in everyway. The MP3's engine is a real letdown compared to the chassis. The MP3 is a lot of fun to drive around the cones though. The lack of an LSD is a little annoying, but the 3 has the same problem. 

That about sums it up. I like both but the 3 is a much nicer place to be in. The 3 has a lot going for it in terms of suspension development as well since the parts are interchangeable with the MS3 variants. MP3 has aged out in that respect.

I'd say road noise is quite a bit less in the 3 vs MP3 but I can't back that up with science.

huggybear626
huggybear626 New Reader
2/5/18 6:07 p.m.

I currently have an MP3 with 186k on it. I also had a brand new 2004 Mazda 3s 13 years ago.  The 3 was definitely the better car for a trip as it was quieter and substantially quicker. I do miss my 3 but the Protege is fun to drive fast.  Unfortunately I don't drive the MP3 as much since I bought a Speed6 to daily.  If you purchase the Protege definitely invest in an lsd.  I have one that I will install one day whenever I get motivation. The rear sway bars like to make noise but there are fixes for that.  And rust sucks for both cars so wherever you are keep that in mind.  Parts are roughly the same overall for consumables. The protege for have a bigger rear seat if you plan on doing any kid hauling or baby making.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
2/5/18 6:25 p.m.

The mp3 is a much more precision instrument. The 3 sedan will be more comfortable, but not as knife edge. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
2/5/18 6:39 p.m.

Thanks all!

 I do have plans for kids, so the back seat is a consideration. I'm in CA so rust isn't really a concern.

Mndsm, do you reckon making the 3 as "precise" as the MP3 to be a matter of shocks and a rear sway? I imagine the steering is already quicker than the MP3 (but that's just a hunch). I do like the "specialness" of the MP3, but I think the lower power, worse MPGs, and higher road noise may tip me toward the 3. 

Here are the cars in question. MP3: https://monterey.craigslist.org/cto/d/2001-mazda-protege/6476435585.html

3: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/d/2005-mazda-3-sport-manual-5/6475593362.html

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
2/5/18 7:39 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

I believe it to be possible. I sort of went off the deep end. When I updated my ms3, I went full coilovers, hotchkis sways front and rear, awr endlinks, and 245/40/17 star specs, from bone stock. My experience put the mp3 on par with say, a Cooper (non s) in terms of handling. I don't think you'd need to go as nuts as I did. A rear sway is easily one of the best suspension mods you can make to this platform. The cars were equipped very softly fr9m the factory. They do like to step out in the back, but the rsb makes it not scary. 

dxman92
dxman92 Reader
2/5/18 9:29 p.m.

My vote goes for the 3. I test drive one when they first came out and it reminded me of a poor mans bmw..

GTwannaB
GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/5/18 11:28 p.m.

That Protege is clean. I test drove a Protege5 way back and really liked the feel. My Mazda3 drives have been rentals with crappy tires so not impressed. DD and safety the 3 wins. No side airbags on MP3. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/5/18 11:34 p.m.

I drove the MP3 when it was new--like, I went on the media introduction. It's been years since I have driven one, but I remember enjoying my time with it. The same could be said for the P5 wagon as well. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/6/18 6:05 a.m.

I've owned 2 3's and Autox a mp3. The MP3 is a much sharper tool but very prone to 1 tire fire especially when autocrossing. It's not as nice of a place to spend time and is much louder than the 3. Adding in a MS3 rear sway and a set of volvo comfort sport springs on a set of B4 Bilsteins helped to sharpen the 3's responses. 

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
2/6/18 10:46 a.m.

Honestly, this will sound stupid, but id just buy the protege. The 3 is a nicer place to be,  but it's an appliance. The protege just feels more. Now...speed3......

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
2/6/18 2:36 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback guys! This car will be a do-everything car, so I am leaning towards getting the right 3, but the "specialness' of the MP3 might tip it in my favor. Plus this one seems nicer than most of the 3s that have been treated like appliances. The downside is it's a long drive to test drive it and I'm short on time at the moment. 

I also found a nice '06 Focus ST (Not the new one, the old one) with only 50k and asking $4500. I figure it might be fun to try since it's got the 3's motor. That's sort of out of the scope of this thread though. 

Thanks again!

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
2/6/18 3:07 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider :

What class do you run the MP3 in? I'm interested in doing some autocrossing in whatever car I get, and I'm wondering if the MP3 is better for H-street than the 3. Other than the one tire fire issue!

Autocross advantages for MP3 seem to be: 7" wide wheels, stiffer springs, suspension. 

For the 3 advantages seem to be: Faster steering, more power. 

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
2/6/18 3:21 p.m.

I owned an 04 Mazda3 for a while there. Very good experience and always enjoyed driving it. 

At this point i would probably get the mp3 because it's 'more special' out of the gate and i don't care as much about the other stuff.. YMMV. cheeky

huggybear626
huggybear626 New Reader
2/13/18 7:37 a.m.

Since this thread was relative to my interests, would anybody be looking to purchase an MP3? I think I may want to sell mine.

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
2/13/18 4:29 p.m.

I'd be interested but it seems you are in MD... pretty far from CA. How many miles?

huggybear626
huggybear626 New Reader
2/13/18 5:54 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

It has 186k on it.  I bought it with 164k about 5 years ago.

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
2/13/18 6:02 p.m.

In reply to huggybear626 :

I'm looking for something with less miles, I already have a high-mile car, so I'm looking for a 100K-ish car. Thanks for the offer and good luck with the sale. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/13/18 7:25 p.m.

We autox it in a very under prepped FSP car. Really we could have run it in STF now a days with the mods we had. 

huggybear626
huggybear626 New Reader
2/13/18 7:32 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Thank you. It's either sell that or the Mazdaspeed 6. 

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