Having been among the most capacious and well-equipped compact sedans on the market, Mazda Protege was extremely competent on the road and complied with claims for sportiness made by Mazda. The Protege actually stood out among ordinary sedans when it came to handling department. Its performance was impressive as well, especially when it featured larger engine and manual shift.
Nevertheless, the model was rated by the Insurance for Highway Safety as the worst among nine cars and minivans when it came to damage in a series of 5-mph front and rear crashes. The crash test results showed that the total damage was $1,152 worth of crumpled sheet metal. There was no safety problem though, as tested bumpers do meet the federal standards concerning passenger protection. They showcase a major costs issue for car owners in urban areas since the insurance is rather expensive.
While the previous-generation model featured an aluminum beam and foam energy-absorbing material behind the rear bumper in order to decrease the damage caused by crash, bumpers of Mazda Protege 1999 used different material aimed to improve fuel economy. The honeycomb plastic beam found on the redesigned model actually snapped when it backed into a steel pole at 5 mph.