Mazda Introduces the Protege All-Sport Concept Wagon
30 December 1998Mazda Introduces the Protege All-Sport Concept Wagon
Sport-Utility Wagon Evokes Heritage of the Mazda 323 GTX Rally Car LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30 -- Yesterday at the LA Auto Show, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) unveiled the Mazda Protege All-Sport Concept Wagon, an all-season, all-wheel-drive (AWD) sportwagon with aggressive, European-inspired styling and spirited performance. Based on the right-hand drive Japanese and European five-door wagon version of the all-new Protege sedan, the Protege All-Sport evokes the heritage of Mazda's 1988-89 323 GTX, the first all-wheel-drive "rally car for the street." The All-Sport designation first appeared on Mazda's MPV sport-utility van, and conveys the wagon's go-anywhere attitude and style. "Clearly, crossover vehicles are a rapidly growing segment of the industry. We are showing the vehicle in Los Angeles to see if there is sufficient demand in the market for a vehicle of this type," said Martin R. Leach, managing director of product planning for Mazda Motor Corporation. "We feel the Greater L.A. Auto Show is the perfect venue to gauge the reaction of media and consumers to the Protege All-Sport because Southern California is the car culture capital of the world." The Mazda Protege All-Sport has a 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine that produces 136-horsepower and is mated to an all-new, four-speed, electronically-controlled automatic transmission. A Sport mode makes it possible to shift up or down manually when driving in the D-range. The Protege All-Sport concept also features four-wheel disc brakes, 17-inch wheels and full-time all-wheel-drive. Ride height has been raised for increased ground clearance and enhanced visibility. With its chiseled good looks, the Protege All-Sport's bold fender flares, muscular shoulders, taut flanks and hard edges convey an aggressive attitude and rugged appearance. Its two-tone green and gray paint scheme evokes images of the outdoors. The upper half is Meadow Green, while the bumpers, fender flares and body cladding add a gray tone, highlighting the performance and design features of the vehicle. The front and rear skid plates are a titanium color. The Protege All-Sport was styled at Mazda's Hiroshima, Japan design center. Elements of the powerful front face include Mazda's distinctive five-point grille and air intake fitted with rugged mesh grilles, quad multi-reflector headlamps and large round fog lights. Dual exhaust pipes exit through a custom rear fascia, while a spoiler helps keep the rear window clear. The rugged Protege All-Sport features Mazda's unique "Triple H" construction. These reinforced and gusseted frames create an extremely strong passenger compartment structure that ensures optimal protection in the event of a side impact or rollover. The interior is highlighted with green trim on the leather-wrapped shift lever and NARDI(R) steering wheel. The seats are leather and dimpled suede, with green trim and stitching. The center console, selector lever faceplate and power window switch panel on the door trim are titanium in color. The interior also features a satellite navigation system for worry-free backwoods driving, a driver and front-seat passenger air bag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) and front-seat side impact airbags. Additional features include front and rear seatbacks that fold forward flat so they can be used as tables. Mazda's award-winning OptiSpace design, which optimizes interior space and minimizes the space required by the mechanicals, leaves plenty of room for five passengers and their cargo. Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the research and development, sales and marketing, and customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has approximately 800 dealerships nationwide and is owned by Mazda Motor Corporation, Hiroshima, Japan.