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spandak
spandak Reader
3/7/18 10:52 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I attended to a technical presentation by one of head Mazda engineers a few years back. They spent a lot of time talking about how they lightened the car and made it more efficient. One point in particular was they made 6th gear a 1:1 and then geared the differential accordingly because that’s the most mechanically efficient design. 

Mazda has stepped up their game and set the bar for efficiency in ICE technology. I think it’s remarkable and it has given me a huge appreciation for their product. 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
3/7/18 11:03 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

You don't want the Fiat engine. It's a terrible little thing.

What is wrong with the Fiat motor?

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
3/7/18 11:06 a.m.

Mazda has my favorite cars and styling right now - we just picked up a new AWD CX-5. We still have the 2013 MS3, but the AWD CX-5 is aaaaamazing to drive. Put it in sport and it feels like you're driving something very light on it's feet - all the other times it glides down the road. Radar cruise control and LDA and it's a very, very nice place to spend time in.

I've avoided test driving the Miata since I have no reason to take one home, and I probably would.

rslifkin
rslifkin SuperDork
3/7/18 11:10 a.m.
spandak said:

One point in particular was they made 6th gear a 1:1 and then geared the differential accordingly because that’s the most mechanically efficient design. 

I always found it interesting that BMW used to do this on a lot of their cars and then switched to overdrive transmissions at some point in the 2000s.  

NickD
NickD UltraDork
3/7/18 11:10 a.m.
93EXCivic said:
Keith Tanner said:

You don't want the Fiat engine. It's a terrible little thing.

What is wrong with the Fiat motor?

I seem to recall that they run something like 0 degrees of static timing, which makes them a real dog out of boost. And the Abarth 500 I drove was really laggy as well. I autocrossed it and if you didn't holeshot it hard, it never really got into boost until halfway through the course.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 11:24 a.m.

Yeah, almost no static timing and low displacement, it's a laggy little beast. Running them both on our local track, you have a hard time throttle steering the Fiat because it's hard to get on top of the turbo. It literally is brake, gas, turn. And this is from a group of drivers that has been driving turbo Miatas for decades! The engine would work well on a typical test drive where you get the car on a straight and stomp the throttle so it'll do well with the "drive to eat" club crowd.  Talk to auto journalists, none of them like the engine in the Fiata or the 500. Other than Tom Suddard for some reason.

It also doesn't help that the Fiat carries an extra 100 lbs on the nose, so you really need that throttle steering on a tight course.

I've come to realize that Mazda's Skyactiv concept is not a powertrain concept, it's a whole platform. That AWD system in accordianfolder's CX-5 is predictive, using inputs from sensors such as the wipers to guess traction levels before the wheels start to slip. When you drive it on ice or snow, it's far more playful and fun than other cute utes. Same with the indirect TPMS and a bunch of other systems in the cars - Mazda's basically datamining the car and doing cool things with the info. I don't know how much other automakers have taken this strategy because I don't know their cars as well, but it feels like the final result of a lot of gradual evolution as various parts of the car get smarter and start talking.

NickD
NickD UltraDork
3/7/18 12:38 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

One thing I will give the Fiat engine credit for is, good lord, does it sound amazing.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
3/7/18 1:02 p.m.

I liked the Abarth I drove a little bit.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
3/7/18 1:36 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It really is about the total driving package. Even the automatic in it's fantastic - it has early lockup for the gears above 1st. A very cool little car. I've heard a lot of complaints about peak power in comparison to contemporaries (in more than just the miata), but you really should just drive them - they are fantastic cars with FANTASTIC interiors.


NickD
NickD UltraDork
3/7/18 1:41 p.m.

Also, I feel like Mazda is the only Japanese designer who hasn't started beating all their cars with the ugly stick. Their new design philosophy is amazing. Just wish they would give us the Mazda6 wagon that elsewhere gets.

crankwalk
crankwalk GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/7/18 1:43 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Yeah, almost no static timing and low displacement, it's a laggy little beast. Running them both on our local track, you have a hard time throttle steering the Fiat because it's hard to get on top of the turbo. It literally is brake, gas, turn. And this is from a group of drivers that has been driving turbo Miatas for decades! The engine would work well on a typical test drive where you get the car on a straight and stomp the throttle so it'll do well with the "drive to eat" club crowd.  Talk to auto journalists, none of them like the engine in the Fiata or the 500. Other than Tom Suddard for some reason.

It also doesn't help that the Fiat carries an extra 100 lbs on the nose, so you really need that throttle steering on a tight course.

I've come to realize that Mazda's Skyactiv concept is not a powertrain concept, it's a whole platform. That AWD system in accordianfolder's CX-5 is predictive, using inputs from sensors such as the wipers to guess traction levels before the wheels start to slip. When you drive it on ice or snow, it's far more playful and fun than other cute utes. Same with the indirect TPMS and a bunch of other systems in the cars - Mazda's basically datamining the car and doing cool things with the info. I don't know how much other automakers have taken this strategy because I don't know their cars as well, but it feels like the final result of a lot of gradual evolution as various parts of the car get smarter and start talking.

This is what I've never understood about the Fiat turbo engine. Wouldn't a good tune solve most of those problems?

100 lbs on the nose gets a lot less noticeable with a tune with strong boost gain and a little extra hp/tq across the middle of the band. Even with that static timing and low displacement, that turbo is small enough that I would think somebody could make a tune for a couple extra PSI and making it stand up a little earlier and harder.

crankwalk
crankwalk GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/7/18 1:47 p.m.
NickD said:

Also, I feel like Mazda is the only Japanese designer who hasn't started beating all their cars with the ugly stick. Their new design philosophy is amazing. Just wish they would give us the Mazda6 wagon that elsewhere gets.

 

I agree the latest mazdas have looked pretty good. They beat theirs with the ugly stick about 10 years ago with that smiley face design that most people hated.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 2:33 p.m.
crankwalk said:
Keith Tanner said:

Yeah, almost no static timing and low displacement, it's a laggy little beast. Running them both on our local track, you have a hard time throttle steering the Fiat because it's hard to get on top of the turbo. It literally is brake, gas, turn. And this is from a group of drivers that has been driving turbo Miatas for decades! The engine would work well on a typical test drive where you get the car on a straight and stomp the throttle so it'll do well with the "drive to eat" club crowd.  Talk to auto journalists, none of them like the engine in the Fiata or the 500. Other than Tom Suddard for some reason.

It also doesn't help that the Fiat carries an extra 100 lbs on the nose, so you really need that throttle steering on a tight course.

I've come to realize that Mazda's Skyactiv concept is not a powertrain concept, it's a whole platform. That AWD system in accordianfolder's CX-5 is predictive, using inputs from sensors such as the wipers to guess traction levels before the wheels start to slip. When you drive it on ice or snow, it's far more playful and fun than other cute utes. Same with the indirect TPMS and a bunch of other systems in the cars - Mazda's basically datamining the car and doing cool things with the info. I don't know how much other automakers have taken this strategy because I don't know their cars as well, but it feels like the final result of a lot of gradual evolution as various parts of the car get smarter and start talking.

This is what I've never understood about the Fiat turbo engine. Wouldn't a good tune solve most of those problems?

100 lbs on the nose gets a lot less noticeable with a tune with strong boost gain and a little extra hp/tq across the middle of the band. Even with that static timing and low displacement, that turbo is small enough that I would think somebody could make a tune for a couple extra PSI and making it stand up a little earlier and harder.

That's what the internet said when the Fiata was announced! All you need is a tune and you have 200 hp. But, then, whoops, turns out the 2013+ ecus aren't tuneable in quite the same way that "everybody knows" the Fiat engine can be tuned. We had one for about a year, couldn't get it to do anything significant and decided not to continue with the car for that and other reasons. It never got much love from the FM staff who also had NDs to choose from - given a straight choice, we all went for the Miata. And that's with demographics ranging from mid-20s to 60.

100 lbs on the nose (in a 2300 lb car) is noticeable when the car you're comparing it to already has better/sharper midrange and the exact same chassis.  Moar boosts won't necessarily help that. The biggest problem with the Fiat is the existence of the Miata.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 2:44 p.m.
NickD said:
93EXCivic said:
Keith Tanner said:

You don't want the Fiat engine. It's a terrible little thing.

What is wrong with the Fiat motor?

I seem to recall that they run something like 0 degrees of static timing, which makes them a real dog out of boost. And the Abarth 500 I drove was really laggy as well. I autocrossed it and if you didn't holeshot it hard, it never really got into boost until halfway through the course.

Yea, not really.  I'm assuming that you guys are calling idle timing as "static" timing.  As soon as you tip in, it's going to change to a torque generating spark- as the idle spark is just for idling.  All other times, the desired spark comes from some other place- most of the time spark that is just barely retarded from knock or best spark.  Including tip in and out while you are driving.  Spark is the fastest actuator on the engine- so it can change the fastest, too.

So the lagginess of the engine really has nothing to do with the idle spark timing.  Unless it's an indicator of low speed knock problems- and THAT can cause some real problems with feel.

crankwalk
crankwalk GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/7/18 2:59 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
crankwalk said:
Keith Tanner said:

Yeah, almost no static timing and low displacement, it's a laggy little beast. Running them both on our local track, you have a hard time throttle steering the Fiat because it's hard to get on top of the turbo. It literally is brake, gas, turn. And this is from a group of drivers that has been driving turbo Miatas for decades! The engine would work well on a typical test drive where you get the car on a straight and stomp the throttle so it'll do well with the "drive to eat" club crowd.  Talk to auto journalists, none of them like the engine in the Fiata or the 500. Other than Tom Suddard for some reason.

It also doesn't help that the Fiat carries an extra 100 lbs on the nose, so you really need that throttle steering on a tight course.

I've come to realize that Mazda's Skyactiv concept is not a powertrain concept, it's a whole platform. That AWD system in accordianfolder's CX-5 is predictive, using inputs from sensors such as the wipers to guess traction levels before the wheels start to slip. When you drive it on ice or snow, it's far more playful and fun than other cute utes. Same with the indirect TPMS and a bunch of other systems in the cars - Mazda's basically datamining the car and doing cool things with the info. I don't know how much other automakers have taken this strategy because I don't know their cars as well, but it feels like the final result of a lot of gradual evolution as various parts of the car get smarter and start talking.

This is what I've never understood about the Fiat turbo engine. Wouldn't a good tune solve most of those problems?

100 lbs on the nose gets a lot less noticeable with a tune with strong boost gain and a little extra hp/tq across the middle of the band. Even with that static timing and low displacement, that turbo is small enough that I would think somebody could make a tune for a couple extra PSI and making it stand up a little earlier and harder.

That's what the internet said when the Fiata was announced! All you need is a tune and you have 200 hp. But, then, whoops, turns out the 2013+ ecus aren't tuneable in quite the same way that "everybody knows" the Fiat engine can be tuned. We had one for about a year, couldn't get it to do anything significant and decided not to continue with the car for that and other reasons. It never got much love from the FM staff who also had NDs to choose from - given a straight choice, we all went for the Miata. And that's with demographics ranging from mid-20s to 60.

100 lbs on the nose (in a 2300 lb car) is noticeable when the car you're comparing it to already has better/sharper midrange and the exact same chassis.  Moar boosts won't necessarily help that. The biggest problem with the Fiat is the existence of the Miata.

That's a shame that most tuners of virtually every other make and model has figured out a way to overcome the modern CAN bus ECU issues except for this one.

 

Are these guys selling snake oil?

https://shopeurocompulsion.net/collections/fiat-124-engine/products/euro-drive-lite-tuning-system-fiat-124

https://shopeurocompulsion.net/products/euro-drive-tuning-system-fiat-124-spider-abarth

 

197 whp and 221 ft lbs sounds pretty great for a chassis of that size for $650.00 and I'd gladly have an extra 100 lbs on the nose if I can just buy a tune that gives me way more power for less money than a tune, header, exhaust on the naturally aspirated engine in the Miata.

 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 3:18 p.m.

We were not able to find anything that would give those sort of results. We had some sort of plug-in box that did make a bit of difference, but nothing too exciting. Certainly nowhere near 197 rwhp or 221 lbs. But hey, if you want a Fiat, go for it. I'm just relating my personal experiences with the car and the ND on track, on the dyno and on the street. But the world is a boring place if there's only one possible option.

Note that "CAN bus ECU" isn't really a factor. The important thing is cracking the ECU's operating system and then identifying what you find inside in such a way that you can change the behavior of the car. CAN is a communications protocol used to let the ECU talk to other things, but it doesn't run the ECU.

Alfa, we logged ignition timing while driving. It was surprisingly retarded. I can pull up some data if you're interested.

crankwalk
crankwalk GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/7/18 4:30 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

We were not able to find anything that would give those sort of results. We had some sort of plug-in box that did make a bit of difference, but nothing too exciting. Certainly nowhere near 197 rwhp or 221 lbs. But hey, if you want a Fiat, go for it.

I'm not in the market for them but if I was, I just wondered why I don't see way more of these than the Miatas. It's like if the BRZ was available with a smaller displacement engine but with a turbo and the FR-S was just an NA 2.0, I think the vast majority would go for boost and the option of somebody figuring out how to make a custom tune for them.  

intrepid
intrepid New Reader
3/7/18 4:36 p.m.

Regarding the Fiat being a "laggy little beast"...is this why some people say that replacing the turbo diverter valve is one of the first and easiest mods an owner should do?

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 4:49 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

 

Alfa, we logged ignition timing while driving. It was surprisingly retarded. I can pull up some data if you're interested.

Relatively speaking, I don't doubt that.  It could be a pretty fast burn chamber that allows for what most think it retarded spark, or it could be that the engine is too high of compression.  It would be interesting to see the data if I knew what MBT timing was (or better, where the CA50 is when running).  Otherwise, it's not a big deal.

Still, that has nothing to do with "static" timing.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 5:56 p.m.
intrepid said:

Regarding the Fiat being a "laggy little beast"...is this why some people say that replacing the turbo diverter valve is one of the first and easiest mods an owner should do?

Leaky diverter valves do nobody any favors. It's easy and pretty, but it doesn't make an enormous difference.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
3/7/18 6:24 p.m.
rslifkin said:
spandak said:

One point in particular was they made 6th gear a 1:1 and then geared the differential accordingly because that’s the most mechanically efficient design. 

I always found it interesting that BMW used to do this on a lot of their cars and then switched to overdrive transmissions at some point in the 2000s.  

 

For the most part they stopped doing this in the 1970s, bar some sport models.

 

Generally speaking, all the Getrag 5 speeds where 5th gear is to the right and up have overdrive.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
3/7/18 6:31 p.m.
Blaise said:
mtn said:

I've had an NB and NA8, along with an E30 318. None of them are underpowered. The Twins, which I've test driven three times because they should be perfect for me, are underpowered--actual numbers and times be damned. 

Drive a twin with a tune + header. Driving it back to back with a stock one was eye-opening. I'm CONSTANTLY in the 'dip zone.'

 

Manual transmissions allow the driver to select the wrong gear for themselves wink

rslifkin
rslifkin SuperDork
3/7/18 6:41 p.m.
Knurled. said:

Generally speaking, all the Getrag 5 speeds where 5th gear is to the right and up have overdrive.

On the big BMWs, yes.  On the small ones, no.  5 speed E36s and E46s had a 1:1 5th gear.  Only the 6 speed E46s had an OD trans. 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UltraDork
3/7/18 9:21 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
T.J. said:
Keith Tanner said:

The MSM's competition in the day was the Neon SRT4.

Interesting. When I bought my MSM, I thought the competition was the MR-S and the S2000. I decided I didn't want to live with the impracticality of the MR-S and didn't think there was any reason to spend the extra money on the S2000. I would've said that the SRT4 was in competition with the VW R32, but not a miata, but I can see that they were both factory turbo charged versions of standard cars.

Fair point. The SRT4 wasn't really direct competition, but its performance bump made the MSM look a little sad by comparison. I know that the S2000 was the performance benchmark Mazda was aiming for, as the original RFQ for the MSM had "faster than S2000" as a requirement. But the Honda was considerably more expensive, made even more so by the slow sales of the MSM.

I do recommend that you do not drive an ND unless you're willing to take it home.

I concur with this. I went to look at an AP1 S2000 at a Mazda dealer. Deposit down before driving 3 hours to go buy it. I got there right when the dealer opened and they had sold it to an employee the night before. To make up for it they let me take an ND to a meeting I had in the area anyways. I almost took it home even with the ridiculous $30k price tag. Man it was a blast and way more refined than prior iterations. If I wasn't so dead set on an S2000 and VTEC I'd be in a Miata. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/18 9:30 p.m.

Note that the Miata is less expensive in real money today than it was in 1989.  That price tag isn't so ridiculous.

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