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Toyota Matrix, Mazda Protege5, Hatchback, Wagon
#283 of 292 Matrix vs. Protege5
Feb 25, 2003 (1:12 am)
This weekend I drove Protege5 and Matrix XR/XRS, all the three, of course, with manual gearbox. If you interested about my Matrix impression, you can check it here: Matrix vs. Protege5 Here I will repost some notes and elaborate on others.
The steering wheel feedback on Protege5 feels almost like computer joystick... err, "joy wheel". You can turn it 1/8 of an inch from neutral position and you feel immediate feedback.
The Protege seating was OK. I mean, after you managed to get inside, the position is fine. But because of the lower height the seats are positioned very low, so to get in and out is a separate task.
Protege dashboard looks classic and nice. Some may say that it is outdated, but I say that it feels like at home. I prefer the classic approach of pilot's cabine than Matrix's funky style. At least Toyota did not put instrumentation on the Matrix in the middle like on Echo.
Protege has much better shifter and brakes feels better too. When driving Matrix I always had a feeling that I would not be able to stop the car. Maybe the numbers are good, but the feeling is not.
It is harder for passengers to get on the rear seat in Protege. And there is no much space for their feet under front seats, because front seats are very close to the floor.
Protege has the same hard plastic on the dashboard which makes me wonder why even outdated Cavalier has soft plastic and Protege/Matrix/ZX5 do not?
The steering wheel on Protege does not seem to be that small, like it feels on Matrix. After driving Protege I did not remember any peculiarities about the wheel, the shifter or the pedals, which is, probably, the best compliment to the car.
The worst thing inside is the rear seat, in particular, the way it folds. To prepare the trunk for a TV set or a bike one needs to pull seat cushions, fold them, take off headrests, and finally fold the seatback. Now one needs to find where to store the headrests and the old-fashioned two-piece trunk cover. Also, the seatbelt for the middle passenger in the rear is strapped to C pillar and looks odd. While folded, seats provide for great luggage space, but front seat does not fold like on Matrix. By the way, euro-Focus now got the availability of folding front passenger seat, like Matrix.
Outside Protege5 gets the gen-Y treatment with front and rear underbody spoilers and side plastic skirt. While this plastic stuff could be ripped off from Matrix' bumpers, it is the solid piece on Protege5. One have to replace the bumpers as a whole to get clean 323F euro-look. Side markers also contribute in ruining Protege apperance. Ugly piece of amber plastic popping out of the bumper surface. To improve an apperance bigger wheels with smaller ET would do the job.
Looks like carmakers do not like to paint cars: both Protege5 and Matrix has door frames covered with black glue-on thin plastic. Take a closer look on your car. For Matrix black frames are not available on base version.
Protege drives very nice and enthusiastically waves its rear if getting of the accelerator in sharp turn.
But with all rigidity Mazda claim about, Protege gets pretty bad crash test scores. Matrix should be much better: it is a newer car and is build on bulletproof Corolla platform.
Protege 2-liter engine is both more potent than base Matrix motor, and revs happily, almost like XRS powerplant.
So... If not for rear seat quirky folding algorithm and poor crash test scores, Protege5 is way better and cheaper choice for a spirited driver. Matrix in its current form is just a hungry new kid on the block (27mpg on a highway for XRS -- the same as my 3-liter Camry). Its versatility is the main selling point.
#284 of 292 Hard Plastic on Dash
Feb 25, 2003 (7:19 am)
The reason we are seeing a resurgence of hard plastic on dashes is that front air-bags make the need for soft dashes irrelevant. I personally don't really care what it is made of as long as it doesn't make noise. I had a very nice looking soft-touch dash in my 2000 Jetta. Unfortunately, it rattled and creaked like a 1960s body-on-frame classic. Give me not-too-ugly and quiet any day.
Feb 25, 2003 (7:52 am)
welllll...that, and it is a lot cheaper for car manufacturers! Personally, I hate it, but as mikus said, it is turning up everywhere now, so there aren't a whole lot of choices. I like soft touch materials inside a car.
#286 of 292 a lot cheaper...
Feb 25, 2003 (10:37 am)
#287 of 292 Towing days are over
Feb 27, 2003 (10:46 am)
Just purchased a new MP5. And I am perfectly fine with not being able to tow. My previous car was a 1990 Grand Marquis.
Last summer I hauled everything my girlfriend and I had stockpiled from our apartment at college to our houses. I had the front and back seat filled, the trunk loaded with light weight stuff like pillows and what not, and the midsized Uhaul on the back loaded to the top with heavy stuff like furniture, speakers, and who knows what else. I had so much stuff I felt guilty passing the weigh station!
Anyway, even though the car burned oil and wouldn't stay in overdrive, my girlfriend in her 2000 Corolla couldn't keep up with me. I was cruising at 65-70 up and down the hills on the Mass Pike. And her car was empty! Moral of the story? If you want to tow, you don't buy a commuter car, because even the oldest of full size sedans can do the job better.
#288 of 292 (moral extended) ...
Feb 27, 2003 (1:17 pm)
... but when you're ready to give up on the ability to tow and want something that's a little (lot!) more fun to drive, and still pretty functional and roomy inside, something in flavor Protege is your best bet
Mar 01, 2003 (6:36 am)
Towing capacity w/Matrix is 1500 lbs, not 1000.
#291 of 292 One thing I noticed...
May 02, 2003 (9:32 am)
...but nobody else seemed to mention. I drove a Vibe before I bought the P5 (which I love dearly), and the location of the gearshift was INTENSELY uncomfortable. Not only was it a very long reach, but the throw distance between gears was VERY short, so it felt like I had to fully extend my arm to reach the lever, but then barely flick my wrist to change gears. I suppose I could get used to that over time, but it was incredibly uncomfortable. I'm 5'10" and a moderate build, has anyone else noticed this?
May 02, 2003 (1:57 pm)
I have grown accustomed to having the shifter close by. I have a Matrix XRS and feel the shifter and the throw are great. Whenever I drive my spouses 5 speed Vue I feel like I am driving an old truck. The throw is long and the shifter feels like it's out of place (even though I know every other vehicle has it there save the Matrix/Vibe and Civic Type R).