Mazda added the all-new 1999 Protégé to its lineup last fall. The next big thing will come sometime this year, when the company adds an all-new MPV minivan as a 2000 model.
1999 Mazda Protege All SportEnlarge Photo
The Protégé is designed using Mazda's advanced new "Triple H" construction, which the company says makes for an extremely strong passenger compartment structure and a stronger body than its predecessor had. It comes in three trim levels: DX, LX and ES. Both the DX and LX models come with a new 1.8-liter dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) four-cylinder engine that is rated at 120 horsepower (hp). The ES model gets the 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder rated at 105 hp. Mazda says that numerous refinements make these engines quieter, more responsive and more economical than those in previous Protégé models. Both engines may be mated to either a five-speed manual or an all-new electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. And steering is rack-and-pinion with variable power assist. Significant suspension changes improve the handling of the new model. All five seats have shoulder/lap belts.
The redesigned MX-5 Miata was introduced in the spring. It seems to have more of everything. It has a more muscular, aggressive body style. It has a restyled interior and 42 percent more trunk room, yet its overall dimensions are nearly identical to the first generation, according to Mazda. Its more powerful 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine is rated at 140 hp, and a new Variable Intake control System further improves engine breathing. The short-throw five-speed manual transmission, which is standard equipment, has been improved by reducing the vibration of the shift knob and making the gear changes smoother and easier. Rack-and-pinion steering is standard, and
Mazda says that changes in steering geometry make steering more responsive. A four-wheel double-wishbone suspension is used on the new Miata, and front and rear track widths have been increased, adding stability during cornering.
The 626 sedan gets some minor refinements. On the Millenia, the grille and front and rear lights have been redesigned.
Mazda's 1999 truck lineup has been streamlined and includes a four-door extended cab configuration called the Cab Plus 4 as an option on B-Series trucks. Also joining the B-Series lineup are three production versions of the Troy Lee B-Series concept truck from 1997-98, developed with input from noted motorsport and extreme apparel designer Troy Lee.