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Discussion Starter #1
Now that the Abarth is arriving, I'm trying to decide between Auto and Manual (I test drove both). I change my mind every day. Here are my pros/cons:

AUTO:
1. Way easier to drive in Los Angeles freeway stop & go traffic, even though I don't commute anymore. Go figure.
2. Living near the beach, I can drive it wearing my flip-flops.
3. My partner is a senior, whom I might want to encourage to to drive it on occasion, despite historic fear of my cars.
4. Sometimes I like to daydream rather than focus on engaging with the vehicle.
5. I'm lazy

MANUAL:
1. F*CKING fun.
 
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Now that the Abarth is arriving, I'm trying to decide between Auto and Manual (I test drove both). I change my mind every day. Here are my pros/cons:

AUTO:
1. Way easier to drive in Los Angeles freeway stop & go traffic, even though I don't commute anymore. Go figure.
2. Living near the beach, I can drive it wearing my flip-flops.
3. My partner is a senior, whom I might want to encourage to to drive it on occasion, despite historic fear of my cars.
4. Sometimes I like to daydream rather than focus on engaging with the vehicle.
5. I'm lazy

MANUAL:
1. F*CKING fun.
Jim, I agonized over the same thing here. And I have decided to go with the automatic.

I've been driving for 46 years. All but two of those years were spent driving manual transmission cars, which should make me predisposed to rowing gears. But times have changed. The freeways and cities and parking lots in San Diego are like war zones filled with combative drivers fighting for the last square inch of gridlock. This is my daily reality, not a winding country road. My current car is an automatic with paddle shifters. It keeps me relaxed and relatively stress-free as I creep through bedlam at speeds ranging between 0-7 MPH. Whenever traffic begins to flow again, my automatic transmission and I practice deep-breathing exercises to regain sanity. I don't need to curse people anymore, and I don't feel the need to play Boy Racer like an idiot when I could be texting-and-driving instead. (Just kidding, folks!) In all seriousness, though, a manual tranny would be entertaining for about three days. Three days. But when the new car novelty wears off, the automatic transmission is still a pleasure, still has paddle shifters to give me supreme control, and still has what the 124 does best: handles great. I find many more reasons – for this diehard manual transmission lover – to go automatic, with no apologies.
 

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Of the many newer cars I have driven, Mazda's transmission and FIAT's ecu is one of the last DBW setup's that lets you freely rev match without any noticeable hang, its a sin to pass up. The only thing missing is that vintage V12 going around a corner, but hey, I'm not a millionaire and nothing is perfect lol.
 

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I liked the manual transmissions in my '90 and '00 Miatas... but I hated the manual in my '12 Miata.

Sadly, the same manual that was in my '12 is now in the 124. Notchy. Stiff. Grumpy. And slow synchros.

I still have nightmares thinking about it, even though I sold the car just two months after buying it new.
 

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I liked the manual transmissions in my '90 and '00 Miatas... but I hated the manual in my '12 Miata.

Sadly, the same manual that was in my '12 is now in the 124. Notchy. Stiff. Grumpy. And slow synchros.

I still have nightmares thinking about it, even though I sold the car just two months after buying it new.
lol, don't ever buy a VW with a manual, you want to talk about horrible...
 

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I really expected most Abarths to be manual as its the sportier version of the car, and 40 of the 50 cars listed on cars.com are auto. Crazy. It's a shame the automatic in these aren't better, like a nice, sporty dual clutch.
 

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Here's to having a choice. Not many cars available with manual these days.
 
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Here the Miata was considered a Girly car and Auto trans. cars were mainly sold. But what I hear from the dealers the Manual Trans are the ones getting sold and auto trans stay in the show room.
 

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I was initially going to get the manual but realized that shifting gears would just become a reflex like it is with my motorcycles. Motorcycles are way more engaging than cars though (at least for me) and I figured the novelty of shifting the 124 would quickly lose its appeal, and eventually just become an annoyance.

So, I've been driving the auto since Friday and don't regret it in the least. It has fantastic feedback because of the lock up torque converters in every gear (except 1st), so you feel the shifts just as you would if you were shifting a manual tranny. I love it. No regrets.
 

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I have a BRZ S automatic, unquestionably the best automatic transmission I've ever driven, but it just doesn't engage me like driving a manual does.

Having said that, I have a company vehicle that I use for commuting, so the concerns you've voiced aren't so much an issue for me. The 124 will simply be for weekend mini-breaks and runs through the mountains. A manual it is!
 

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The 124's automatic is very good. Personally I prefer a manual, but in my case I had to buy the automatic and I am impressed with it.
That is encouraging since the Auto Express video review remarked that the automatic was slow to shift. I'll buy an auto this time around to make the commute easier and allow the wife to drive.
 

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If I wanted an auto I would have kept my SC400. Wonderful car. But I don't live in a city that is normally gridlocked (if it is, I take the MDX), and I love the "connected" feeling I get from shifting. Believe it or not, my wife is also looking forward to a manual trans! I've been getting my shifting jollies from my Moto Guzzi Griso, but may be too old and decrepit for the bike in a few years, so a 124 with manual trans will probably suit me for a while.
 

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That is encouraging since the Auto Express video review remarked that the automatic was slow to shift. I'll buy an auto this time around to make the commute easier and allow the wife to drive.
Most reviewers have tanked the automatic transmission, but in all fairness they do regularly drive a range of vehicles and perhaps may have no particular fondness of, or allegiance to, a particular brand. For someone who has a passion for Fiat/Abarth and the 124 maybe the transmission isn't the best compared to others, but when viewed singularly does the job just fine.
 

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Any reviewer who didn't routinely criticize an automatic-equipped sports car would get thrashed by his cookie-cutter readers.

The Aisin automatic in the 124 is into its ELEVENTH successful year in the Miata, and it is universally well liked by Miata drivers who appreciate and own automatics. If it were a dog of a transmission, it wouldn't have then kept around fot this long. In fact, it's the only thing carried over from the prior-generation Miata.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for your responses everyone. I started this post.

Here's what I've decided:

I want a fully loaded White Abarth with red seats and Brembo brakes...options not easy to come by at this early date.

I'll let the Universe determine the transmission. I just want one of my eight contacted dealers to call me...
 
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