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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The test drive occurred 1 week apart. The FIAT test was at a highway dealer, warm top down day. The Mazda on a chilly top up day, driven over very twisty, bumpy mountain roads. Both cars were manuals, without the Brembos or Recaros, but otherwise loaded.

I was 99% percent convienced I was getting the Abarth, however I found that car disappointed me a little where the Miata surprisingly impressed me. There is a small chance I may consider the Mazda. 25% chance if I can get it at the right price/color (Ceramic). Before making my purchase, I need to re-test the Abarth again, on something other then a straight road with the top up. Who knows, maybe they had stale gas in her but the Miata felt zippier. Please see the + and - of each car.

ABARTH
- The amount of turbo lag was surprising. My 1980 FIAT Spider Turbo was more responsive
- The shifting was more notchy then I expected (Very Dissapointed)
+ Way better looking - Single biggest reason it is still in contension
+ Better seats
- The exhaust note did not impress me. Too Docile. All Abarths come with the Monza Record Exhaust, correct? Or is it an option on Abarth?
+ is a 2017 Model
+ Classier Interior
+ Choice of Red Leather Seats or Recaros

MIATA:
+ Surprisly fun to drive operate powertrain-wise. Liniar, responsive, willing to rev, punchy. Stronger then expected.
+The shifting was smoother with a lighter clutch
+ Even without the Club Suspension, more fun to drive than the FIAT
- Seats stunk both with style, comfort and covering (Leather)
- Front end still looks like a cat-fish
- Car felt lighter
+ The engine and exhaust sound was awesome/thrilling. It was a huge surprise. I don't know if it was because the top was up, or because I was using more revs and doing more shifting or because of the more challenging roads.
- Is a 2016 Model
+ Ceramic Exterior Color
- Saddle interior is not offered in Ceramic car
 

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I think that what you liked most is the piped sound in the MX-5. It is a tube that amplifies intake pulses into the cabin. Some Mazda owners remove that tube.
Regarding turbo lag, you may be referring to lack of torque below 2000 RPM. Lag is a delay in spooling the turbo, which is barely perceptible to me.
 

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I drove the Club ND and liked it a lot, even though I think the electric steering is numb. I enjoyed the engine and overall felt it was a good car. Not long after, the Abarth I had a deposit on came in and I arrived at the dealer intending to buy one of the cars that day.
I'd heard about the turbo lag and lack of low-end, so I kept my foot in it. You shouldn't expect much at low rpm anyhow. I was very pleased. I found the MT to be splendid, after all it's the one from NC (and RX8 I think) . Neither car had full leather so no seat preference there. The Abarth does not include the Monza exhaust, and I'd prefer the "muffler delete" approach. One thing I very much preferred in the Abarth was the steering. IMO better than the Miata.
I like the looks of both cars very much.
So I bought the Abarth!
best regards,
Pete
 

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Lag is a delay in spooling the turbo, which is barely perceptible to me.
Interesting... I think the 124 may be one of the laggiest turbocharged cars sold since the 1980s... but it is a huge turbo, and that's part of the appeal to me. (I had a lot of fun in some really laggy '80s turbos!)

I love the Miata's (and any naturally-aspirated car's) linear, direct power... much easier and more precise for tail-sliding antics and the like. But it gets a little frantic when using it as a daily driver, passing on the interstate, etc... that's where that strong but delayed "whoosh" of 1.4's torque comes in super handy.
 

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It's funny....I like a bit of lag. Bear with me a moment. I think car manufacturers have gone out of their way to completely engineer out turbo lag out of modern engines but I quite like the anticipation in a bit of lag and learning to drive around it...getting on the gas a little early before the apex. It's part of the fun of turbo engines and, to an extent, I like to embrace their turbo-ness.

As far as comparing the MX5 and Abarth, I am in a reasonably unique position of having both in the garage. A Bremboed Abarth Launch Edition and a three week old MX5 2.0 GT RF.



With the additional 45kgs weight in the RF, there isn't a lot of weight difference between the MX5 and the Abarth. But the MX5 almost feels a class of car smaller to drive.

I've tried to put my finger on why this is the case, and I think it's because all of the control weights are higher on the Abarth. The steering has a little more heft to it. The MX5 is set up such that there is less initial weight when turning off centre and it appears to be changing direction slightly more eagerly (this is artificial though and at times feels it...I think I prefer the Abarth's more honest approach). The Abarth is very slightly more reticent on turn in but very quickly does a nice transition to loading up the outside rear, but it's more progressive and controlled than the MX5's hyper quick lurch onto the outside rear. The Abarth feels more deliberate and measured, the MX5 more hyper alert. People jumping into each car for the first time are going to be more confident more quickly in the Abarth. You have to learn to trust the MX5...but you can dig a lot deeper than you initially think.

Adding to the feeling of more weight in the Abarth is the different gearbox and clutch. The NC gearbox that the Abarth gets is notchier than the ND MX5's and can be downright recalcitrant when cold. They are both great gearboxes by anybody's standards, but the MX5's is (again) lighter and more "snickety". And then the MX5's clutch is lighter (and more progressive and better). And finally, the Abarth's hood is longer so the view from the driver's seat (yet again) gives the impression of a bigger car.

As far as engines go, take your pick. I see, the appeal of both. With the Abarth, you can adopt a more laid back "wafting" approach and still move along very briskly "surfing a wave of torque". The MX5 is more rewarding when you are really "getting into it" but doesn't do "effortless" quite like the Abarth does.

I honestly can't decide which of these two cars I prefer. I'm driving the MX5 more at the moment (because it's new) and my wife is using the Abarth as her daily. But which car gets used the most on the weekends seems to be a product of who got home last and parked in front on a Friday night. It's a nice choice :)
 

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ABARTH
- The amount of turbo lag was surprising.
- The shifting was more notchy then I expected (Very Dissapointed)
- The exhaust note did not impress me. Too Docile. All Abarths come with the Monza Record Exhaust, correct? Or is it an option on Abarth?
You too !!! I was beginning to think there was something wrong with my spidery car judgement senses.

Its exactly these 3 things that make me a little reluctant to commit at this stage. I have a lightly modified A500 and TBH I found it more fun to drive straight after the test drive of the 124. It had a darty eagerness that the 124 seemed to be missing.

Cannot understand the lag thing at all. When I test drove a Giulietta with the same MA motor I was smitten with that motor moreso than the 1.8TBi I purchased. The 1.4MA I found had that eager rorty Italianess about it that I adore - way better than the 1.4 TBi in my Abarth500 (mine is an Euro model). And yes well put, motor does seem just docile until your stamp your right foot, but then it just goes faster .....I found it too competent (if that makes sense), it was all very civilised but with little drama or involvement required by the driver. It did not go batsh*t crazy like my A500.

The gearshift was OK and acceptable but it certainly was not as epic as all the reviews banged on about. Felt about the same as my A500

That exhaust - what da !! Sounded so sedate. After many hours of listening to YT vids my expectations were high. But that can be addressed.

I did try a MX5 soon after - different but Nah, not for me !! (too much of an Italian car extremist)

If I could be convinced that lag and lack of eagerness can be addressed I think that I could find a place for the 124 in my garage
 

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The MiTo QV we had before the Abarth had the same engine in (pretty much) the same state of tune (125kw/250nm...also the same engine as in the Giulietta) and it was equally as laggy in MiTo. The engine characteristics feel identical in the 124 as the MiTo QV to me.
 

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The MiTo QV we had before the Abarth had the same engine in (pretty much) the same state of tune (125kw/250nm...also the same engine as in the Giulietta) and it was equally as laggy in MiTo. The engine characteristics feel identical in the 124 as the MiTo QV to me.
Really ?? My Sis has the 125kW MA in her 500X and it's laggy (but I put that down to the woeful 9 speed gb and the 1400kg heft of that car) when I drove the the 500X with the 105kW version - way more zingy (actually it was almost a bit of fun)
 

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Really ??
Yep. And with the MiTo QV being pretty much the same weight as the 124, the performance is very similar too. The difference is that, being FWD, it's very easy to overwhelm the MiTo's front wheels in 1st and 2nd. The 124 launches way better with RWD and puts the power down a lot better than the MiTo.
 

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ABARTH
- The amount of turbo lag was surprising. My 1980 FIAT Spider Turbo was more responsive
- The shifting was more notchy then I expected (Very Dissapointed)
+ Way better looking - Single biggest reason it is still in contension
+ Better seats
- The exhaust note did not impress me. Too Docile. All Abarths come with the Monza Record Exhaust, correct? Or is it an option on Abarth?
Turbo lag was noticeable on my test drive too,... until i found the Sport mode. It makes a big difference in the feel of the car around town. If you havent played with it then you owe yourself another test drive.

I also noticed a notchy shifter but the feeling of it has improved significantly over the first 1200miles. it is no longer an issue. And it is the bulletproof transmission from the last generation of a miata so it will never leave you stranded. That can not be said for the transmissions in the ND miata's built before september 2017.

The north american Abarth does not get the Monza Record exhaust as standard equipment. But there are lots of options out there to improve the soundtrack if that is something important to you. Not to mention the looks of the quad exhaust tips.

The looks were the first reason I chose the 124 over the Miata. Every day I own it I am more certain that I made the right choice. But I hope you are an extrovert. Everybody will want to ask you questions about you car.
 

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Looks are very much a subjective thing. I think it's great that the 124 and the MX5 look very different. I preferred the looks of the 124 until the RF came along. I think the RF achingly pretty so it gets my vote now. Yes, it has some odd angles but who was it that said that it can't be true beauty without some strangeness about it? Anyhow...looks are subjective.
 

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I googled it. It was Edgar Allan Poe. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think that what you liked most is the piped sound in the MX-5. It is a tube that amplifies intake pulses into the cabin. Some Mazda owners remove that tube.
Regarding turbo lag, you may be referring to lack of torque below 2000 RPM. Lag is a delay in spooling the turbo, which is barely perceptible to me.
Great feedback... Probably right about the sound being piped in, If that is what it was, it sounded exactly how I expected a small displacement sports car to sound. It was near glorious.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I drove the Club ND and liked it a lot, even though I think the electric steering is numb. I enjoyed the engine and overall felt it was a good car. Not long after, the Abarth I had a deposit on came in and I arrived at the dealer intending to buy one of the cars that day.
I'd heard about the turbo lag and lack of low-end, so I kept my foot in it. You shouldn't expect much at low rpm anyhow. I was very pleased. I found the MT to be splendid, after all it's the one from NC (and RX8 I think) . Neither car had full leather so no seat preference there. The Abarth does not include the Monza exhaust, and I'd prefer the "muffler delete" approach. One thing I very much preferred in the Abarth was the steering. IMO better than the Miata.
I like the looks of both cars very much.
So I bought the Abarth!
best regards,
Pete
I failed to put the comment about the steering in my original post. The Miata seemed over-boosted, the FIAT was better.

Your confirmiation that the Abarth does not come with the Monza Record Exhaust as Standard in the US is Critical to me. Thank you for that confirmation. The dealer did not know! I assume the car I drove did not have the MONZA Exhaust. I have no issue in going the after market cat back approach, if in particular it gets me lighter weight, better HP+ Torque and more responsiveness. Just don't want to be paying for Monza and tossing it to the curb.

Gonna try to drive one today and I will verify on the window sticker what exhaust it has.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Turbo lag was noticeable on my test drive too,... until i found the Sport mode. It makes a big difference in the feel of the car around town. If you havent played with it then you owe yourself another test drive.

I also noticed a notchy shifter but the feeling of it has improved significantly over the first 1200miles. it is no longer an issue. And it is the bulletproof transmission from the last generation of a miata so it will never leave you stranded. That can not be said for the transmissions in the ND miata's built before september 2017.

The north american Abarth does not get the Monza Record exhaust as standard equipment. But there are lots of options out there to improve the soundtrack if that is something important to you. Not to mention the looks of the quad exhaust tips.

The looks were the first reason I chose the 124 over the Miata. Every day I own it I am more certain that I made the right choice. But I hope you are an extrovert. Everybody will want to ask you questions about you car.
You make several good points...

1st on the sport mode - If the manual has a sport mode the dealer neglected to point it out. Is sport mode installed on the Manual or just AT?

My NA Miata had best shifter I ever experienced. You would downshift to every heel and toe downshift (Former FF and FC Racer) to every stop sign. My Mid Engine 2nd Gen MR-2 (Little Ferrarri) was a close second. Hopefully it improves with age.

3rd party exhaust probably 1st mod...
 

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Hmm. Sport mode is on manual and makes a very noticeable difference. Very lazy when off. If I'm right, it remaps the throttle response, weights up the steering, and shifts the torque to occur much lower in the power band.

In my eval, what I prefer about the Abarth over the Miata is it suits my driving style perfectly. Mild under steer to neutral on corner turn in coming out of braking with throttle induced oversteer mid corner leading to full throttle exit very early in the corner.

The car is so stable and easy to control that you throw it down a gear entering the corner so that as you exit you just get that nice mid range wave of torque pushing the rear end around the corner while pointing the steering straight ahead ready for that full throttle exit. This works even when going slow working between second and third.

I find my Abarth to be my perfect dance partner. You just need to know your dance style.

While the Miata strives for that perfection of balance, like a ballet dancer shining on her toes, the Abarth prefers to get er done. It's a street dancer. It's a turbo. Smooth in. Drop a gear. Mash the pedal. Laugh out loud.
 

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I stopped in the local Mazda stealer last week and just seeing how ugly the seats are and it was enough to turn me away if I was a buyer.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I stopped in the local Mazda stealer last week and just seeing how ugly the seats are and it was enough to turn me away if I was a buyer.
The leather seats in the MIATA looked industrial to me and did not feel as comfortable as those in the FIAT.
 

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The leather seats in the MIATA looked industrial to me and did not feel as comfortable as those in the FIAT.
Mmmm...I'd rate them about the same for comfort. The red Abarth seats in ours look funkier for sure, but the Nappa leather in the RF may be more conservative but it's pretty nice. I'd have had Recaros in both of them if I could have done it...but it's not an option here on the RF and was a difficult to get option on the Abarth at time of purchase.
 
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