Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
11/7/17 10:17 a.m.

No, you haven’t already read this test in other magazines. Sure, you’ve seen the headline “Fiat 124 Spider vs. Mazda MX-5 Miata” in a million other places, but never like this.

We’re not simply comparing showroom-stock examples of the platform-sharing roadsters. We’re not going to comment on the Fiat’s acoustic windshield or the Mazda’s smaller trunk.

We’re going to compare track cars on track, with real tires, real suspensions and common engine modifications. When’s the last time you’ve seen a bone-stock Miata at an autocross or track day? Exactly. Other outlets have written this headline. But they haven’t written this story.

Read the rest of the story

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
11/7/17 1:53 p.m.

Do we know the dyno numbers of both cars? I'd be interested to see how much extra power the turbo 4 put down. Bolt ons with NA 4 cylinders always seem so trivial over stock that I'd probably put that money for a header or intake towards suspension or brakes. The turbo on the other hand with a tune and exhaust could free up 50+ hp and that could be worth it.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
11/7/17 2:12 p.m.

Yep, they'll be posted shortly.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
11/7/17 2:16 p.m.

Have a dyno graph!

Twist by Edward Higginbotham, on Flickr

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
11/7/17 3:08 p.m.

Yep, that's a fat bump in the mid range when boost comes on. I like it.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/7/17 4:12 p.m.

peak HP looks the same.  But Look at that TQ difference..........................

bigben
bigben Reader
11/8/17 9:53 a.m.

And the Fiat is just better looking in my opinion.

 

wspohn
wspohn Dork
11/8/17 1:24 p.m.

I just wish they hadn't stuck to the small capacity (1.4) 160 bhp engine.  They had the chance to do what they have always been strangely reluctant to do - offer a performance version of the Miata.  It would have been so easy to just take their existing Mazdaspeed turbo engine (2.3) that they used up to 2013. They put out a very useful 263 bhp and would only have required some pipe rerouting to change from a transverse to an in line engine location.

Kreb
Kreb UltraDork
11/8/17 1:46 p.m.
wspohn said:

I just wish they hadn't stuck to the small capacity (1.4) 160 bhp engine.  They had the chance to do what they have always been strangely reluctant to do - offer a performance version of the Miata.  It would have been so easy to just take their existing Mazdaspeed turbo engine (2.3) that they used up to 2013. They put out a very useful 263 bhp and would only have required some pipe rerouting to change from a transverse to an in line engine location.

The Fiat needs a Fiat motor, otherwise it's primarily just a styling exercise. But otherwise I very much agree. If you've already engineered the platform, body, et cetera, why not offer a giant-killer edition? And since the Fiat can be pumped up relatively easily, Mazda runs the risk of watching their cars getting beaten regularly by 230 HP Spiders. 

Dogote
Dogote New Reader
11/9/17 9:07 a.m.

So now what I want to know is if the Abarth is worth the extra money if you are going to improve the car for track use? 160 HP VS. 164 HP, and the Abarth has Bilstein stuff under it. But, anyone buying one of these with the intent of track and autocross use would find that 4 HP and put some suspension and tires/wheels on it anyways.

I won't be buying one of these until they start showing up used, and I am hoping enough 124's sell (and with manual transmissions) that I'll have several to choose from when I go shopping.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
11/9/17 9:51 a.m.

Absolutely not worth the extra money–everything the Abarth gets you is stuff you'll be throwing on the scrap pile, anyway.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/9/17 9:52 a.m.

The Fiats aren't selling well, and the Bilstein suspension on the Miata is nothing to write home about. In my experience, the one to get for track use is the base model Miata.

Dogote
Dogote New Reader
11/9/17 10:42 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

The Fiats aren't selling well, and the Bilstein suspension on the Miata is nothing to write home about. In my experience, the one to get for track use is the base model Miata.

I think the people who are attracted to the Fiat brand got tired of waiting for them to come back to the USA and just stayed home and bought the new Ipad instead.

Also, when I look at the Fiats they sell at my small town Jeep/Dodge dealer, the salesman's attitude changes whe they find out your looking at 124's for yourself and not you wife/daughter. 

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
11/9/17 1:28 p.m.

I'd say the MX-5 would be the preferred track weapon, but for street use, I think I'd side with the 124 Abarth.   The Fiat has a "specialness" that the Mazda lacks.   I prefer the Mazda's engine and power delivery over the turbo Italian's though.   I actually prefer the Mazda's styling, but it's also WAY more common and you'd see yourself coming and going all the time.

 

I really enjoyed my time in a 124 Abarth.  The car grew on me as the miles rolled on.  The interior (although nearly identical to the Mazda's) just feels better, more upscale.  Maybe it's the different seat coverings, or the gauges.  Something about that car makes it feel more precious than it is.  

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago SuperDork
11/9/17 1:55 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

The Fiats aren't selling well, and the Bilstein suspension on the Miata is nothing to write home about. In my experience, the one to get for track use is the base model Miata.

Not the Club? I was thinking the LSD made that package worth it. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/9/17 2:03 p.m.

The more time I spent in the Fiat, the less I liked it. I couldn't get past the drivetrain or the handling effects of having 100 lbs of extra weight on the front axle combined with sluggish power delivery. Ours was just a Classica, which meant that the difference between it and the Miata interior was basically nil other than a font choice on the gauges and that didn't make it special enough. Did you notice the optical illusion on the Fiat hood that makes it look like a Lincoln Continental?

The LSD is the only real version to go with the Club, unless you really want the infotainment system and cloth seats. On track, I don't miss the LSD much. Autox would be a different matter.

Snrub
Snrub Reader
11/9/17 8:41 p.m.

As much as I like the Miata better, I wonder if the 124 isn't the one to buy used.  At least where I live there seem to be a couple 124s with nice savings to be had, whereas the Miata doesn't seem to depreciate.

 

I really don't get why they have an open diff in the base version of cars.  If they want to save a few bucks, have a basic clutch pack LSD for the base models and the torsen for the hotter ones, or just do a clutch pack all around...

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
11/9/17 8:43 p.m.

Great article. I'd have to do a little research into the potential of the 1.4 to figure out how interesting the 124 really is. As it sits i do think it looks better than the Miata. I also want to know how much of the 100 extra lbs on the nose is easy to fix. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/9/17 9:22 p.m.

I've seen NDs for sale at dealers for under $20k with four-digit mileage. There are deals to be had. 

Everything you can do to pull weight off the nose of the Fiat also works on the Miata, FYI. There's simply more nose on the Fiat. The Miata engine is also crazy light, you need to see one out of the car to understand how much work Mazda put into weight savings on that thing. 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
11/10/17 5:53 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I got to flog an RF at the Challenge, and even though it was an automatic it was still as 100% Miata as my 96 was. Also, even on General all-season tires I think most of us put down faster times in the RF on a single run than we did in our own Challenge cars. 

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