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Not an official review, but the Fiat dealer by me just received their first shipment of them today so I called them up to see if I could take a test drive.

Special thanks to Mike and Cammy at Westbury Fiat for letting me take one out for a spin on such short notice.

The car I got to drive was a Rosso Red Classica automatic. Not my first choice unfortunately, but as we all know the first batch was only automatics and I am most certainly manual bias.

Exterior:

By now, most of us have seen the exterior of the car in person or at least enough pictures on the internet to gather what it looks like so I won't waste any time here. The only thing I will say is the top is incredibly easy to put down. It is just like the Miata, but if you haven't operated one of them, to put it down there is a single lever on the inside that pops the top off its secure location, and then you simply push it back behind you and it snaps in to place. To put the top up, there is a lever in between the seats you pull up, the top pops up, you pull it over your head and secure it with the latch you originally released to put the top down. Super quick and easy.

Interior:

The interior was surprisingly roomy for a two seater. Honestly, I did not feel cramped at all. I am only 5'10", but i'd imagine anyone under 6' would feel the same way. You really don't feel like you're crunched in a tuna fish can at all, I was pleasantly surprised by this. The one I drove had the cloth seats, but the one in the showroom had the leather and I can say both seats were equally comfortable to sit in. The cloth is your standard cloth, however the leather had a more high class feel to it than that that comes in the 500's. The soft touch bits on the interior also kept surprisingly accurate to their name, we're not talking pillow soft here, but much softer and better looking than your standard plastic trim. The climate control buttons, as well as the knob to control the entertainment display were all well within reach with no issue reaching anything. The 7" display is plenty big and the navigation is fairly intuitive once you get the gist of how it works. The sound system for me was perfect, I have most certainly heard better, but unless you are an audio junky the stock non-bose system will do just fine in my opinion. Let me also mention that with the top down and the windows up, I was surprised that I could have a normal conversation without yelling. I did not drive it with the top up because it was 90 degrees, and I did not drive with the windows down since the dealer sticker was already on it, so you're mileage may vary with different window/top combinations. The only quirk on the interior that I could see getting annoying is the placement of the snap in cup holders. If you decide to go for a manual, they may get in the way, but I'm assuming that's why Fiat has made them removable. For the auto though, you don't even notice them. Overall the interior is very simplistic, it really fits this type of car well with no fancy gadgets or unnecessary buttons. If you're buying this car for the trunk, then you need to reconsider your priorities, but with that being said, it really isn't all that small. Id say you could fit three, maybe four duffel bags in it without an issue.

Test Drive:

Before I took it out for I drive I had expected the automatic tranny to be awful, and the suspension to be soft and cushy with no steering response as that is what i essentially expect from most base model cars. Let me tell you, I was wrong. Even for a base model the cars suspension is pretty firm, and the steering response also gives nice feedback and is very precise. It makes me excited for the Abarth as an improvement on any aspect of the handling or suspension is going to make the car that much better. The automatic shifts and rev matches flawlessly and it is actually a pretty fun car to drive. Even though I had to stay calm while driving it since it was only a test drive, I did get to test the 0-60 acceleration. I obviously dont have any numbers, but the acceleration is pretty much on par with a stock 500 Abarth. Overall for it being the base model, and an automatic, I was very impressed. It almost made me consider not waiting for the Abarth and just waiting for a manual classica.

Overall, I was very impressed with the car inside and out. Getting to examine one up close and drive it really erased any doubts I had about whether or not I wanted to go through with purchasing one. If a dealer by you has them in stock, I highly recommend making it over there to test drive one.

Obligatory pictures, sorry I didn't get any of the trunk or engine bay, but I was more focused on driving the thing then taking pictures. I am also by no means a professional or even amateur photographer.








 

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Wow Tim, fantastic review. Thanks. I don't suppose you happened to get pictures of the ECU did you?

Greg
 

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Great review. I was there too Tim. I think the size is perfect. I am 6'0 and I find there is ample room. I wish the seat can be adjusted in more ways and wish the car had more power. I was having trouble reading the screen due to the glare. I took out the Prima and the antenna was not installed. no comment on the stereo. AC was working well.

I think the trunk is about 40 inches wide. good space for a small car.
 

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Wow Tim, fantastic review. Thanks. I don't suppose you happened to get pictures of the ECU did you?

Greg
In my excitement to actually drive the car, I totally forgot to get any pictures of the engine bay, however if it will help you out a bunch I have no issues heading back there.

Great review. I was there too Tim. I think the size is perfect. I am 6'0 and I find there is ample room. I wish the seat can be adjusted in more ways and wish the car had more power. I was having trouble reading the screen due to the glare. I took out the Prima and the antenna was not installed. no comment on the stereo. AC was working well.

I think the trunk is about 40 inches wide. good space for a small car.
Glad to see you got to stop by and see one. I'm glad that even taller people such as yourself feel the same way I did about the amount of room inside. I do kind of agree that the seat would be made more comfortable if it were more adjustable, however I don't think I've ever owned a car where I've been fully comfortable in the seat so I just kind of suck it up at this point.

I did not even think about glare being an issue as I did not try to use the screen until after the test drive, but I can see that getting annoying. I don't really think theres much of a way around that though unfortunately. Good to hear the AC works well though!
 

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Tim, If you could get us pictures of the ECU that would be helpful, especially if you can get a picture of the ECU label with the numbers on it. Toby is dying for this info.

Greg
 

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OOOOhhhhh...I am getting so excited! Just need to get these puppies to HOUSTON!!!! Thanks for sharing your review...every time someone gets to actually touch one I know I am getting closer!
 

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Oh boy...how did I not know this yet? I check their website everyday. I am a local...

Snap a picture of the entire window sticker please! High deff preferably lol

I will have to stop by there this week.
 

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Oh boy...how did I not know this yet? I check their website everyday. I am a local...

Snap a picture of the entire window sticker please! High deff preferably lol

I will have to stop by there this week.
Probably because they just got them yesterday! I'm heading there again today and I'll get a picture of the window sticker as well. I highly recommend getting there yourself to check them out though!
 

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I'm getting the only launch edition that is coming to Boise and can hardly wait. Glad to read that someone has actually driven one and get their impressions. Thanks!!
 

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The dealer says no later than second week in August but expects sooner. I was kind of surprised that I was able to lock up the launch edition but no one else had put down a deposit.
 

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I put in my inquiry early this year as no 2. the gentleman wanted a standard. So I moved to the first spot. It was a tough choice for me between std and the blue.
Tim said there might be another one in Westbury Long Island...

Did you see the 7500 asking for the no 1 spot on eBay. ?!

Good luck
 

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I put in my inquiry early this year as no 2. the gentleman wanted a standard. So I moved to the first spot. It was a tough choice for me between std and the blue.
Tim said there might be another one in Westbury Long Island...

Did you see the 7500 asking for the no 1 spot on eBay. ?!

Good luck
Yes I saw the 7500 plus for a couple of days there was another exactly like it for 5 grand, then the 7500 was lowered to 5 and the 5 was lowered to 35. Today the one was back to 75 and the other is gone. I actually think it was a couple of dealers trying to get a premium. I don't know how I was lucky enough to end up first in line as they have a fairly long list of people to call when they come in but I'm the only one who actually put down a deposit.

The only question I have is weather or not the launch edition had the paddle shifters as I saw a you tube where they were talking that only the auto abarth had the paddles. Also from what I understand all of the launch edition cars are automatics. In a way I would like the Abarth but I really love the launch edition color and interior.

Just wish they would hurry the covered wagon up and get them out here to the sticks in Idaho. I want to see how this new 124 stacks up against my FRS that I traded a 2003 MR2 Spyder in for 3 years ago. The FRS runs really well but I found myself really missing having a convertible. I had 2 different Miata's prior with the first one being a 92 that I loved and the second was a brand new 99 that I hated.
 

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Figured I'd just stick my test drive on experience on the end here rather than start a new thread. Fiat 124 Lusso slushbox and Miata GT manual back to back. No manual Fiat in stock, unfortunately.

First thing you notice with the Fiat is it's QUIET, like really quiet. The Miata in comparison is raucous, which it's not. Once it warms up and comes off high idle the Miata does quiet down but when you're driving there's much more mechanical noise. It doesn't sound great or even particularly good but the Fiat mostly just doesn't sound at all. I did get to do a few 0-50ish blasts and even there the Fiat is incredibly quiet. Tough to really compare the auto to the manual and just talk about engine. Miata definitely feels faster from the driver's seat than an automatic 124, pretty noticeably so. There's more turbo lag than I was expecting but the threshold is very low. It's linear for a turbo car. I was surprised a couple times by just how much it's happy to boost at relatively low RPM and throttle input but what power there is comes on predictably. Some of it is the automatic. It's lazy and doesn't like to kick down so it just "pulls" through a gear to high. Honestly, it's kind of fun as you get to feel the boost build but it's not particularly fast. Some of it is by intent (sport mode on the Abarth . Overall, I'd definitely take the Miata over the stock Lusso/Classica automatic on the engine front which isn't to say it's bad. Sharper would be nice but I didn't find it really objectionable. You won't be pounding the dashboard in frustration as Priuses slaughter you off the line like the poor guy in a BMW x35i. The character just isn't what I am looking for. If you're looking for a quiet, relaxed, comfortable roadster it does that very well. Overall demeanor of the Fiat was more relaxed. I imagine they'll sell quiet a few auto 124s. They're not bad. I'm not overly attached to rowing my gears and since this will be a daily driver I might still look at the Abarth auto for slogging through traffic but the sport button (or aftermarket) is going to have to be significantly more aggressive.

Unfortunately the dealers here are not located anywhere that allows you to really push the car at all to really tell how they handle. The Lusso felt a bit softer although the dealers are 3 miles apart so different routes. Road conditions were similar. Some of that could be the seats. The Lusso seats are much more padded than the ones in the GT Miata. For a Miata, the ND has pretty good seats but they're still Miata seats with cheap leather covering them. For all of you out there wondering why the Lusso + tech pack is $1,000 more than its equivalent sister despite having nearly identical interiors, it's because they aren't. It's obviously a Miata interior but the door panel and seats are significantly nicer in the Lusso than the Miata GT. Plus it looks like they glued a soft touch veneer onto the dash upper which isn't that big a deal but does like a bit classier. Other than that, yeah, it's a Miata with a Fiat badge on the steering wheel. There weren't any Classicos to compare but the Lusso is overall a nicer place to be than the Miata is. $1,000 nicer? I'd say yes. That's before getting into the painted door which you either like or don't. I think it looks tacky, plus it's not that comfortable to rest your arm on, but I know some people love it.

One thing I did note on the Miata, which I drove second, was the on-center steering is pretty bad. Once you get a few degrees off it firms up. That's pretty common with EPS but it stuck out at me as being notable on the Miata, certainly the S2000 had a bit of it as well although less so. I drove the Fiat first and didn't notice that which doesn't mean it wasn't there although I did a couple of flicks just to try to see how it turned in. Steering in both is a bit over boosted for my tastes and not spectacular from what I could tell. Heresy, I know. Miata did seem to have fairly good steering feel on the one curve I got to take. Both seemed reasonably good and easy to place but this was the antithesis of a canyon run. They'd both be great everyday cars to slog through suburban traffic in is about all I can really say. The freeway was also a parking lot so no comments there either.

Visually, the Fiat looks much bigger than it is. It looks much bigger than it is in comparison to the Miata. That extends to from the driver's seat. The flared fender/hood or whatever you want to call it on the Miata is very prominent from the driver's seat. Visibility from the front on the Miata is a bit better and the flares were pretty cool from the driver's seat, somewhat C3-esque. They "feel" different from the driver's seat just sitting there with the engine off, which I found interesting.
 

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Malloric...

Thanks for the great review!
 
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