Inside the car we found little to complain about. Though the '99 Proteg loses a tad of interior space due to added side impact protection, it still leads its class in interior room at 92.6 cubic feet, and 12.9 cubic feet of trunk space. Mazda's OptiSpace design gives passengers more legroom this year and the lower half of the instrument panel is slightly concave, providing extra knee room for those in front.
Exterior styling is always a point of dissidence between reviewers. While the European-looking stout rear end of the '99 Proteg appealed to me, another editor thought the entire vehicle looked ... uh, crumpled. Mazda calls its new styling "Contrast in Harmony," which means it has both soft curves and sharp edges. Imagine rugged mountain peaks reflected in a smooth lake, and that's the Protégé. Stylistically, the short, choppy rear of the car was the biggest hit with journalists, while the rounded greenhouse was angled just enough to keep from looking like a Volkswagen or an Audi. Mazda retains the "family face" of the front end-a chrome-accented five-point grille sporting the Mazda brand symbol.
The strut assembly is not a single piece, but a component with several pieces. The parts of a 1999 Mazda Protege strut assembly include the coil spring, mounting plate, strut, and shock absorber. Occasionally, you may only have to replace a single component of the assembly, which may often be referred to as simply the strut, but sometimes, everything in the assembly will need to be removed and have a new piece installed, particularly if the car has been driven too far with worn strut assembly parts, which exacerbates the problem, causing other components of the assembly to wear down.
Winding through the Canadian countryside just outside of Toronto in a convoy of Mazdas, listening to Lilith Fair and swing CDs, a handful of journalists got a taste of what living with the all-new 1999 Protege might be like. The conclusion? Life could be fun with one of these solid little cars parked in our driveways, especially if you're in your twenties. Let us explain...
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