This car was reviewed very well by nearly all US car magazines. They loved its sporty handling for an entry level economy car, and it could not only outperform its Japanese competitors but also blow away any of the econoboxes from US car companies.
This car was originally known as the Familia line in most markets. Each model was distinguished by the size of its engine. All of those engines for all model years were 4 cylinders, although some years did offer a turbocharged I4.
The ninth generation of this car, sold as the Protege5 in the United States, was sold from 2000 until 2003. These cars are actually still in production in some parts of the world, including Columbia and Ecuador. They were sold as 4 door sedans, 3 or 5 door hatchbacks, and even as a 5 door wagon.
In the final year of US production the Mazdaspeed Protege was made as a limited edition performance model. It got a turbocharged engine and plenty of interior and exterior upgrades over the standard model.
These cars still race in the Speed Touring Car Championship.
You can find these all over the used car market. There are plenty of people out there customizing and modding them and making all sorts of cool new parts for them. If you want to buy a cheap one to fix up or mod you can find them for a low price on eBay.