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    William Maley

    Review: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

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      Is the Fiata better than a Miata?

    Ever since Mazda launched the MX-5 Miata back in 1989, competitors have been trying their best to out-maneuver it.; whether that is through better design, handling, or more power. While all have come and gone, while the Miata is still kicking around. What do you do in this case? If you can't beat them, join 'em. That's the case with Fiat as a few years ago, they would take the place of Alfa Romeo of developing a new roadster using the Miata as a base. The end result is the 124 Spider.

    Fiat’s designers wanted to do a modern interpretation of the 124 Spider designed by the legendary Pininfarina design house. The problem was trying to get that design to work with the MX-5 Miata’s structure. To pull this off, designers would add five inches to the overall length of the 124 Spider. The front end features many of the design touches found on the original 124 Spider with teardrop headlights, trapezoidal grille, raised fenders, and twin-power bulges on the hood. Around back is where the design begins to fall apart. The overall shape and certain choices such as the overhanging trunk lid don't fully mesh with the front. It looks like Fiat had two design teams working on either end of the vehicle, but put a curtain between them so they couldn’t see what the other was doing.

    The Abarth version of the 124 Spider does get some special touches to help it stand out from the other trims. They include a darker grille opening, 17-inch alloy wheels finished in a dark gray, and a quad-tip exhaust system. The only item we would change is making the Abarth badges smaller. The large size really detracts from the iconic look Fiat is trying go for.

    Putting the soft top down in the 124 Spider is very easy. Simply unlatch the mechanism holding the top in place and fold it back into its little storage space. Raising the top is just as painless as you just need to pull a latch behind the seats and pull the top forward. It will only take a few tries before you’re able to put the top up and down in just a few seconds.

    Moving inside, the only real differences between the 124 Spider and MX-5 Miata are the Fiat badge on the steering wheel, different fonts used for the gauges, and soft-touch plastics on the top of the door panels. Otherwise, the 124 Spider features the same layout and quirks of its donor vehicle. Controls readily fall to hand for either driver or passenger. Abarth models come with a 7-inch touchscreen with the Mazda Connect infotainment as standard equipment. On the plus side, Mazda Connect is easy to grasp thanks to an intuitive interface and a simple control knob. Downsides include the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;, and the awkward placement of the control knob. It will get in the way whenever you are shifting gears with either transmission.

    Snug is the keyword when describing the experience of sitting inside the 124 Spider. I’m 5’ 8” and had to set the driver’s seat almost all the way back to not feel cramped. Once I was able to find the right seat and steering positions, it felt like I was a part of the vehicle and not sitting on top of it. The passenger will complain about the lack of legroom as the transmission tunnel protrudes into the footwell. The seats themselves provide excellent support and will hold you in during an enthusiastic drive.

    The motivation for the 124 Spider is provided by Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder. The Abarth produces 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The base Classica and up-level Lusso see a small decrease in horsepower to 160. The difference comes down to the Abarth featuring a different exhaust system. Our tester featured the optional six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles. A six-speed manual comes standard. Although the 124 Spider has higher power figures than the Miata, it isn’t that much faster. Reviewers who have run 0-60 tests say the Miata does it under six seconds, while the 124 Spider takes over six seconds. There are two reasons for this: First, the Miata is lighter than the 124 Spider by an average of about 120 pounds. Second is the engine has a bad case of turbo lag. The turbo doesn’t fully spool up until about 2,000 to 2,500 rpm, leaving you wondering where all of this power is when leaving a stop. Once it’s going, power is delivered in a smooth and somewhat linear fashion.

    The automatic transmission is another weak point of this powertrain. It loves to upshift early and leaves you without any turbo boost. This can be rectified by using the paddles on the steering wheel or throwing the automatic into the manual shift mode. The manual transmission is the better choice as it allows more flexibility with the engine.

    EPA fuel economy figures for the 124 Spider stand at 25 City/36 Highway/29 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 28 MPG.

    If there is one place that the 124 Spider Abarth can give the MX-5 Miata a run for its money, it is in the handling. The Abarth feels more athletic and confident when entering a corner with little body roll and fast transitions thanks to a sport-tuned suspension. Steering is the same as Miata with excellent road feel and quick turning. The downside to the athletic handling is a very stiff ride. Road imperfections are directly transmitted to those sitting inside. There is also an abundance of wind and road noise coming inside the 124 Spider.

    In some ways, the 124 Spider is better than the MX-5 Miata. The Abarth provides crisper handling and the interior is slightly nicer than what you’ll find in the Miata. But in other areas, the Miata is the better vehicle. The turbo lag from the turbocharged 1.4L saps a bit of the fun out of the vehicle and the design is somewhat unflattering. We can understand why someone would pick the 124 Spider Abarth over the Miata as it is something different. But is it the better Miata? The answer is no.

    Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 124 Spider, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Fiat
    Model: 124 Spider
    Trim: Abarth
    Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir Inline-Four
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 164 @ 5,500
    Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,200
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/36/29
    Curb Weight: 2,516 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
    Base Price: $28,195
    As Tested Price: $30,540 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    6-Speed AISIN Automatic RWD Transmission - $1,350.00

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    I know some are excited that this rebadge Mazda Miata is out there giving Fiat some much needed quality in their auto line. Yet the car is just Meh to me. Small, tiny and just does nothing to excite me. Miata is the same way. So many other exciting cars to drive over this.

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    I wouldn't mind having a Miata at some point..it seems like it (and this variation) is the only affordable pure sports car on the market...seems like it would  be a lot of fun.  Cars like this are all about handling and the joy of driving, not about how fast they can go around a race course or down a drag strip.

     Seems like it would be great for 3 season weekend drives on the winding, hilly backroads of Ohio...

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    9 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    I wouldn't mind having a Miata at some point..it seems like it (and this variation) is the only affordable pure sports car on the market...seems like it would  be a lot of fun.  Cars like this are all about handling and the joy of driving, not about how fast they can go around a race course or down a drag strip.

     Seems like it would be great for 3 season weekend drives on the winding, hilly backroads of Ohio...

    I get the point you're making, but would take an ATS Coupe over a miata or 124.

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    53 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    I get the point you're making, but would take an ATS Coupe over a miata or 124.

    Agreed. But the price difference is probably like 10-15k so that's a difficult comparison. 

    Went to their sites..

    ATS starts at 38k and the Miata starts at 25k. Spider is the same as the Miata. 

    Price wise, its more like a base Mustang/Camaro, BRZ, or Toyota 86 comparison. If I could get the ATS coupe with the same engine as the Camaro 2.0T that would be my choice. I just like the inside, outside, and visibility of the ATS so much more. 

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    2 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Agreed. But the price difference is probably like 10-15k so that's a difficult comparison. 

    Went to their sites..

    ATS starts at 38k and the Miata starts at 25k. Spider is the same as the Miata. 

    ATS starts at $37,595 

    Fiat 124 per the story above starts at $28,195

    If the roughly $9,500 is more than you want to spend, I would then go Camero starting at $25,905 or Mustang starting at $25,585 as both I think are superior to the Miata or 124 and can handle on par or better.

    Just my preference, but while I know the American auto's are heavier, a quality driver can handle the added weight and match or beat the Miata/124 duo same as I think they can beat the Subaru/Toyota duo of BRZ/86.

    Again, just MHO.

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    Apples and oranges, the ATS is a luxury sports coupe like the BMW 4-series, etc.  

    Something about a minimalist ragtop like the Miata appeals to me..like the old British sports cars but with reliability and quality.   Maybe I'm also thinking about something fun for my 50th in a few years.  I love my Jeep for daily use, but want something fun and pure also...

    I think @A Horse With No Name would understand.  It's one of those things you either 'get' or don't..I'm starting to 'get' it.   

    As far as the Detroit sports coupes go, I have old Mustangs, kind of like the new Mustang, but find the Challenger far more appealing (want one also).   The Camaro just doesn't appeal to me at all. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    7 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Apples and oranges, the ATS is a luxury sports coupe like the BMW 4-series, etc.  

    Something about a minimalist ragtop like the Miata appeals to me..like the old British sports cars but with reliability and quality.   Maybe I'm also thinking about something fun for my 50th in a few years.  I love my Jeep for daily use, but want something fun and pure also...

    I think @A Horse With No Name would understand.  It's one of those things you either 'get' or don't..I'm starting to 'get' it.   

    As far as the Detroit sports coupes go, I have old Mustangs, kind of like the new Mustang, but find the Challenger far more appealing (want one also).   The Camaro just doesn't appeal to me at all. 

    OK, I turned 50 on November 27th just a couple weeks back and I still have not gone through a midlife crisis according to my kids and wife, so I guess I just do not get it as the Miata while well built is just a cramped uninspiring auto. 

    Does it handle well yes, but I do not get what is so great about the car. The American Pony cars are far superior to me in handling and fun factor. For the fun and handling but in luxury form we have the ATS coupe. So covered no matter what end you want. I really do not get the appeal to the cracker jack box Miata, but then that is my problem I guess as I see Zero Appeal to that car.

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    @dfelt I assume you can understand that not everyone has the same tastes in cars, different cars appeal to different people for different reasons.  I'm not built like an NFL linebacker or NBA player and already have an SUV, so I'm don't need much in terms of storage space in a fun car. I don't need luxury in a sports car either. Another pure sports car that appeals to me is the Boxster, but the Miata would be a much better deal on price and reliability.  

    I like sports coupes like the Mustang, Challenger, ATS, etc but those  are a different genre. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    the 1.4 turbo is amazing in the 500 abarth, and begs the driver to peg the boost gauge. in the roadster format, the engine is eeeeeeeh, and having an automative doesn't help at all. 

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    2 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    @dfelt I assume you can understand that not everyone has the same tastes in cars, different cars appeal to different people for different reasons.  I'm not built like an NFL linebacker or NBA player and already have an SUV, so I'm don't need much in terms of storage space in a fun car. Another pure sports car that appeals to me is the Boxster, but the Miata would be a much better deal on price and reliability.  

    I get that point and fair enough in the body size thing and yet I get the attraction to Porsche and if I am going to pay $30,000 or less and want a true road ripping car regardless of where it comes from. I can find plenty of very low mile Porsches here in Washington for $30,000 or less that would be better than the Miata.

    Autotrader search

    1998 Porsche Boxster with 36,611 miles for $12,687 convertible. This is a freakin awesome deal.

    https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=467544212&zip=98043&referrer=%2Fcars-for-sale%2Fsearchresults.xhtml%3Fzip%3D98043%26startYear%3D1981%26sortBy%3DderivedpriceDESC%26maxPrice%3D30000%26incremental%3Dall%26firstRecord%3D0%26endYear%3D2018%26makeCodeList%3DPOR%26searchRadius%3D25&startYear=1981&numRecords=25&maxPrice=30000&firstRecord=0&endYear=2018&makeCodeList=POR&searchRadius=25&makeCode1=POR&modelCode1=BOXSTE

     

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    Yeah. But.

    Let us be really honest though.  (Mr. Cubical beat me to the punch. I was typing this post while he posted his.)

    This is the car in question.

    Image result for fiat 124 spider abarth

     

    I understand the reasons why we are picking 2.0T ATS coupes and we are mentioning 2.0T Camaros and ecoboosted Mustangs and Subrau BRZs.  But, we are being quite unfair to the car in question. 

    None of those cars mentioned, including the Toyobaru, are in the same league. As in the Fiat 124 is a roadster. While all are competitors competing for the same market even...even if there is a slight difference in price for all, none drive or feel the same way. Not even the Mustang and Camaro convertibles.

    Visibility in a roadster, top down, well, has to be better than any coupe...

    Handling for a base Camaro or Mustang might be on par with the Fiat 124 Abarth, (I might assume that a 1LE suspension package is available for the Camaro 2.0T?) but the driving feel of a Fiat 124 Abarth is not the same...albeit slightly heavier than the Miata, its still all about being old skool British and Italian roadster...

    With that being said...sure...you folk prefer other enthusiast machines in this range than the Fiat 124 Abarth. Its your choice. In no way am I gonna argue that. 

     

    I personally WOULD choose the Fiat 124 Abarth over all other cars mentioned so far.  With a slight exemption on an ecoboosted convertible Mustang. 

    Image result for ford mustang convertible 2018

     

    For me, the Fiat 124 Abarth is all about the drive and the looks.

    For me,  the ecoboosted Mustang convertible...is all about  the looks. 

    I like them both equally. And I dont car how much money one costs over the other. In other words, if I was gonna be choosing one over the other, money would NOT be one of the criteria. 

     

    EDIT:

    Even Mr. Speedy Fapper weighed in and he too, said what I wanted to say.

    Then a Challenger was also mentioned.  Yes...I would choose the Challenger over all others, but like I started this post, the car in question IS about a Fiat 124 Abarth. It aint fair to it to talk about a muscle car....and yes....Im  all about the muscle cars!!!!

    Edited by oldshurst442
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    3 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    I get that point and fair enough in the body size thing and yet I get the attraction to Porsche and if I am going to pay $30,000 or less and want a true road ripping car regardless of where it comes from. I can find plenty of very low mile Porsches here in Washington for $30,000 or less that would be better than the Miata.

    Autotrader search

    1998 Porsche Boxster with 36,611 miles for $12,687 convertible. This is a freakin awesome deal.

     

     

    For me, I won't spend money on a 20 yr old car...I want a new or CPO car with new car reliability and  a warranty..don't  want to f*ck around the old car problems of a 20 yr old car...been there, done that.

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    I like the Boxster, have ridden in a few and driven a couple.  But I definitely wouldn't want a 20 yr old one...too much that can go wrong, and go German wrong ($$$$).  No more money pits.   I want peace of mind and fun, not a nightmare. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    7 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    @oldshurst442 I hear what your saying but I would take this used Porsche over the 124 as I posted in my response above. This baby to me looks better.

    1998Boxster.jpg

    Yes well...

     

    Charlie Sheen's (Harper's) reaction to the Boxster, particularly this generation closely mirrors my reaction to it...:P

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    11 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    I like the Boxster, have ridden in a few and driven a couple.  But I definitely wouldn't want a 20 yr old one...too much that can go wrong, and go German wrong ($$$$).  No more money pits.   I want peace of mind and fun, not a nightmare. 

    :roflmao: That seems to be Fiat's real name, Money Pit!

    MoneyPit.gif

    For those that wonder what colors and love this car I give you this to help you decide!

    124Abarth.gif

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    58 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    1998 Porsche Boxster

    That's actually more lame of a car than a 2018 MX-5, believe it or not. 201 1998 horsepowers..  

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    For the 28k the Abarth costs it's really difficult to beat because when I build a Mustang or Camaro I add things that swell the price to 30-32k(but with them you can certainly get some discounts but I won't include those). 

    I think the biggest reason I've never really lusted over the small coupe/roadster is I live in such a flat boring landscape. On a daily basis I wouldn't really get to take advantage of something fun and toss-able like the 124/MX-5. 

    I'll add an even larger twist to the game.. Hot hatches. if I had to keep the MSRP under 30k.. I'd probably get a GTI and I haven't heard a bad thing about them on back-road twisties either. Yeah, they're considered wrong wheel drive... 

    GTI.jpg

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    Of all the roadsters, I like this one the best.  As much as I like big luxury cars, there is a part of me that wishes I had the garage space and time to futz with an old British roadster like a Triumph or Austin Healey. 

    The Fiata is about as close one can get to a modern incarnation of those cars... which is blasphemy because it's an Italian name on a Japanese built car..... but it is what it is.  Only the Z4 compares in atmosphere.  I've never really cared for the looks of the Miata in any generation.

    It's for that same reason that I would like an old Saturn Sky Red-Line.... they hit the nail on the head with that car. It's a shame it didn't live on in another brand.

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    The 124 is the brightest spot in the Fiat line, with the 500 Abarth being a dark horse.  I prefer the 124 to the Miata although I like the RF, yet on the other hand when I heard about the wind buffeting problems in the RF it kind of made me not smile as wide.

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    Co-worker of mine searched for over a year for the perfect car to replace his wife's Mini Roadster.  They like Chevy, so when they found a Krypton Green Camaro 2LT with stick somewhere down south, they were excited.  The dealer even paid to have it delivered by rollback to PA.  She comes to pick him up in it most evenings.  It's a hot looking car with the black stripes and wheels.  But the bloom is off the rose already, as he says it is unnecessarily hard to get in and out of, plus you can't see out of it... ALL THIS after living with a Mini Roadster!  He is 56.  /tangent

    Edited by ocnblu

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    I sat in a 5th gen Camaro last year at a car show..ridiculous tiny side windows, tiny mirrors, blind spots everywhere.  Needs Silverado-size outside mirrors and a back up camera.   And maybe a periscope.    

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    1 hour ago, ocnblu said:

    6a00d83451b3c669e201a3fcea8802970b.jpg

    That reminds me of all the generic looking minimalist icons that Google and Apple have put into their software that just makes me think, WTF is that supposed to represent?

    They could not do an arrow if it is a left turn indicator?

    Maybe a star rising?

    Sad that Chevy has taken a cheap ass way of doing whatever it is supposed to represent.

    :stupid:

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    11 hours ago, dfelt said:

    That reminds me of all the generic looking minimalist icons that Google and Apple have put into their software that just makes me think, WTF is that supposed to represent?

    They could not do an arrow if it is a left turn indicator?

     

    :stupid:

      Why? An arrow would have wasted space because of the shape..this suffices because it is on the left mirror, so the function is obvious.

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    Arrow doesn't 'waste space'; it's a straight line bent in the middle.
    But I agree- it's on the left, it means turning left.

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    Just now, balthazar said:

    Arrow doesn't 'waste space'; it's a straight line bent in the middle.
    But I agree- it's on the left, it means turning left.

    It takes up more width than a straight vertical bar, though.   Space is at a premium on the face of a mirror.

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    1 hour ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    It takes up more width than a straight vertical bar, though.   Space is at a premium on the face of a mirror.

    Silverado mirrors are huge and the 'bent line' covers the same amount of square millimeters.

    Quote

    Only here could we wander away from Italian badged Japanese built sports cars to be discussing Silverado mirror indicators.....

    Maybe it's simply an indicator how interesting a Fiat rebadge of a Mazda is. ;)

    Edited by balthazar
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    12 minutes ago, balthazar said:

     

    Maybe it's simply an indicator how interesting a Fiat rebadge of a Mazda is. ;)

    The colour combos of that Fiat Abarth rebadge of a Miata I might say, is quite interesting. 

    The fact that the Fiat rebadge of the Miata does not at all look like a Miata is also quite interesting.

    The fact that a Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky were rebadges of one another and as good of a job that GM did to mask the fact that they were rebadges of one another but one could see the similarities but as how the Fiat guys  did so much to mask the rebadge of their 124 to the Miata and one could not really tell really is interesting as how they accomplished that.  

    I mean, Subaru and Toyota's joint efforts to make a sports car went to great lengths to engineer its awesome handling yet, they forgot to distinguish it for its respective brand...

    The powertrain...The GM twins and the Toyobaru...all share the same engines with their respective rebadged brethren....not so with the Fiat 124 and its rebadged cousin. Which to that I will say is...interesting. 

    Miatas and Solstices and Skys and Toyobarus all have undergone well documented LS swaps...not so with a Fiat 124 of any vintage... (maybe somebody somewhere in USA Land prolly has done an LS swap on a Fiat 124, but it certainly is not well advertised and publicized on the internet as like the others I mentioned....which I will also say is interesting....from a certain point of view....a certain point of view from a certain type of car enthusiast that, shall we say, likes to keep all things Fiat authentic...as opposed to the lack of loyalty towards the other cars Ive mentioned...) 

    So Id say....perhaps that a mirror from a pick-up truck might seem to be of a more interesting subject to talk about ratherthan a Fiat rebadge of a Miata.  It is NOT however because the Fiat 124 lacks any kind of interesting things to talk about....but maybe the folks that are talking about a pick-up truck mirror rather than the Fiat might lack some personality of their own...:P

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    @oldshurst442 Or it could be that  the audience of interest over a rebadge Mazda as a Fiat is so small now that most go Meh! and Move onto other interesting autos that actually have more use and purpose in life. :P 

    Give it another 20 years and then sport coupes as an EV might come back into fashion, right now you know it is all about the CUV / Truck baby! :D 

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    5 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Only here could we wander away from Italian badged Japanese built sports cars to be discussing Silverado mirror indicators.....

    Well, you gotta have something to tow it with......:P

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    I'm going to confess something.

    I have never driven a Miata.  During all of the media events that I've gone to, it always has a wait and with so many other cars there that don't have waits, I can't be standing around waiting for a car.

    I have, however, driven the 124 spider and I really liked it. The handling is well balanced, steering supurbe and the engine willing.  It's got a bit of grit to it that appeals to me.... just enough of the "old world" Italian roadster feel from the engine.

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    On 12/9/2017 at 7:04 PM, dfelt said:

    That reminds me of all the generic looking minimalist icons that Google and Apple have put into their software that just makes me think, WTF is that supposed to represent?

    They could not do an arrow if it is a left turn indicator?

    Maybe a star rising?

    Sad that Chevy has taken a cheap ass way of doing whatever it is supposed to represent.

    :stupid:

    I don't think that's a blinker because why would we need a blinker in that location. I think that might be a blind spot indicator.. I'm could very well be wrong though. 

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    2 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    I don't think that's a blinker because why would we need a blinker in that location. I think that might be a blind spot indicator.. I'm could very well be wrong though. 

    My 2006 Escalade has an arrow on both mirrors which is part of the turn signal and I noticed in newer versions they have the turn signal plus blind spot indicator. 

    Maybe your right that it could be the blind spot since there is the yellow spot on the edge of the mirror that would function as turn indicator.

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    No it isn't.  It is a turn indicator.  I watched the video on YouTube going over the functions.  It is a turn indicator for people who are in the lane next to you.

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    11 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    I'm going to confess something.

    I have never driven a Miata.  During all of the media events that I've gone to, it always has a wait and with so many other cars there that don't have waits, I can't be standing around waiting for a car.

    I have, however, driven the 124 spider and I really liked it. The handling is well balanced, steering supurbe and the engine willing.  It's got a bit of grit to it that appeals to me.... just enough of the "old world" Italian roadster feel from the engine.

    Interesting, feel the same way about the Miata. Took me a while to drive one, but I totally understand why folks love them the way they do. As much fun as I make of them 124, I bet it is fun to drive too....:)

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  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      The Toyota Tundra holds the title of being the oldest full-size truck, coming in at thirteen years without any sort of redesign. On one hand, this makes the Tundra a very reliable and dependable truck. On the other hand, the Tundra isn’t able to fully compete with the likes GM, Ram, or Ford with their more modern designs and hardware. But there is one exception to this where the Tundra can be a good alternative to the Detroit Three, and it comes in the form of the TRD Pro.
      Color can do a lot to a vehicle such as making an older model look modern or highlighting some of the polarizing elements of a design. This Army Green paint, which is new on all TRD Pros for 2020 makes the Tundra look younger and a bit more aggressive.  Inside, you can tell that the Tundra is getting up there in age. The design hasn’t changed much and material quality cannot even compare to the likes of GM and Ram’s trucks. But I like the large buttons and knobs for various controls. Not only does it make it easier to find, but it means you can have a set of gloves on and easily control various aspects. One key improvement for 2020 is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being added to the Tundra’s Entune system, which gives drivers another choice in their infotainment choices. The Crewmax model seen here is huge. Step into the back seat and you might think you entered a limo with an endless amount of head and legroom on offer. I do wish the seats had a little bit more padding. Only one engine is available on the 2020 Tundra; a 5.7L V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This is teamed with a six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. This engine provides plenty of thrust and provides an engine burble that you might expect from one of the Detroit three’s V8 trucks. The automatic is very smooth when changing gear and seems to where it needs to be in any situation. The downside to this V8 is fuel economy. The EPA says TRD Pro CrewMax will return 13 City/17 Highway/14 Combined. I saw an average of 14.2 mpg during my week of a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Maybe a couple more gears for the automatic could improve this. Toyota has kitted the Tundra TRD Pro with some serious off-road chops; Fox internal bypass dampers for all four corners, TRD springs that increase wheel travel, and a set of Michelin LTX off-road tires. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try it off-road. But other reviewers who have taken it off the beaten path report the TRD Pro is very capable.  What I can report is the changes to the suspension makes for a surprisingly comfortable ride. This suspension does mean you will experience a fair amount of body roll when cornering, but that is to be expected with a truck like this. My Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax starts at $52,780. With some accessories and destination, the price climbs $55,020. The Tundra is getting long in the tooth as evidenced by the interior and poor fuel economy from the V8 engine. But the TRD Pro helps freshen the Tundra a bit and makes a compelling option for those who plan on spending more time off the beaten path. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Tundra, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Tundra
      Trim: TRD Pro CrewMax
      Engine: 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve i-FORCE V8
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 381 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 401 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/17/14
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: San Antonio, TX 
      Base Price: $52,780
      As Tested Price: $55,020 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Chrome Tube Steps - $535.00
      Stainless Steel Door Edge Guard - $140.00
      Door Sill Protector - $70.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The Toyota Tundra holds the title of being the oldest full-size truck, coming in at thirteen years without any sort of redesign. On one hand, this makes the Tundra a very reliable and dependable truck. On the other hand, the Tundra isn’t able to fully compete with the likes GM, Ram, or Ford with their more modern designs and hardware. But there is one exception to this where the Tundra can be a good alternative to the Detroit Three, and it comes in the form of the TRD Pro.
      Color can do a lot to a vehicle such as making an older model look modern or highlighting some of the polarizing elements of a design. This Army Green paint, which is new on all TRD Pros for 2020 makes the Tundra look younger and a bit more aggressive.  Inside, you can tell that the Tundra is getting up there in age. The design hasn’t changed much and material quality cannot even compare to the likes of GM and Ram’s trucks. But I like the large buttons and knobs for various controls. Not only does it make it easier to find, but it means you can have a set of gloves on and easily control various aspects. One key improvement for 2020 is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being added to the Tundra’s Entune system, which gives drivers another choice in their infotainment choices. The Crewmax model seen here is huge. Step into the back seat and you might think you entered a limo with an endless amount of head and legroom on offer. I do wish the seats had a little bit more padding. Only one engine is available on the 2020 Tundra; a 5.7L V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This is teamed with a six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. This engine provides plenty of thrust and provides an engine burble that you might expect from one of the Detroit three’s V8 trucks. The automatic is very smooth when changing gear and seems to where it needs to be in any situation. The downside to this V8 is fuel economy. The EPA says TRD Pro CrewMax will return 13 City/17 Highway/14 Combined. I saw an average of 14.2 mpg during my week of a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. Maybe a couple more gears for the automatic could improve this. Toyota has kitted the Tundra TRD Pro with some serious off-road chops; Fox internal bypass dampers for all four corners, TRD springs that increase wheel travel, and a set of Michelin LTX off-road tires. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try it off-road. But other reviewers who have taken it off the beaten path report the TRD Pro is very capable.  What I can report is the changes to the suspension makes for a surprisingly comfortable ride. This suspension does mean you will experience a fair amount of body roll when cornering, but that is to be expected with a truck like this. My Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax starts at $52,780. With some accessories and destination, the price climbs $55,020. The Tundra is getting long in the tooth as evidenced by the interior and poor fuel economy from the V8 engine. But the TRD Pro helps freshen the Tundra a bit and makes a compelling option for those who plan on spending more time off the beaten path. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Tundra, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Tundra
      Trim: TRD Pro CrewMax
      Engine: 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve i-FORCE V8
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 381 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 401 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/17/14
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: San Antonio, TX 
      Base Price: $52,780
      As Tested Price: $55,020 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Chrome Tube Steps - $535.00
      Stainless Steel Door Edge Guard - $140.00
      Door Sill Protector - $70.00
    • By William Maley
      When I was driving the 2020 Lexus GS in late February, rumors were flying around that the model would be discontinued at the end of the model year. There was some credence to this rumor as sales had been falling and Lexus hasn’t been updating the model to keep it somewhat up to date with competitors. It would sometime later that we learned that the GS would be going away at the end. So this is the last look at a sedan that I liked at the beginning but now have some mixed feelings.
      Not much has changed in the overall design of the GS since our last review in 2018. The F-Sport has its tweaks such as a mesh grille insert, more aggressive bumpers, and dual-spoke wheels. I still find this sedan very striking, especially in this bright blue. The interior is much the same as the 2013 and 2017 models I have driven. Plus points are high-quality materials, very comfortable front seats, and an easy to read instrument cluster. Downsides are the very dated infotainment system and confounding controller for it; and tall transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in many Lexus and Toyota vehicles. In the GS, it produces 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. My test vehicle came with the optional all-wheel drive system, which means a six-speed automatic is standard. Sticking with rear-wheel drive gets you the eight-speed. The performance of the V6 doesn’t really wow as it once did. 0-60 takes around six seconds for the AWD version, which is unremarkable as other competitors can do the same in around five seconds or less. Not helping is the six-speed automatic which limits the flexibility of the engine. The pluses to the V6 are minimal NVH levels and silky smooth power delivery. The EPA says the GS 350 AWD will return 19 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. I saw an average of 22 mpg during my week. The GS surprised me as to how it well handled in the corners, especially in the F-Sport trim. That continues here as the GS 350 F-Sport AWD shows off minimal body roll and sharp steering. You do miss out on some of the trick features on the RWD model such as limited-slip differential and variable gear-ratio steering, but you’re likely not to notice it. What is a bit surprising is the GS F-Sport’s ride quality. Those expecting more bumps to disrupt the ride will be surprised as the GS glides over them like it was nothing. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Previously, the GS 350 F-Sport would have been my recommendation for a luxury midsize sedan with a sporting edge. Now, it is difficult for me to recommend the GS at all considering the age and how many competitors have moved forward. Right now, I would go with a BMW 5-Series as being the one for sport while the S90 takes the place of being something a bit different in the class. Still, if I had the opportunity to get my hands on the GS 350 F-Sport, I would do it. This is a prime example of do as I say, not as I do. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 350, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: GS
      Trim: 350 F-Sport AWD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve VVT- V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 311 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22
      Curb Weight: 3,891 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $54,505
      Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost my copy of the window sticker for this particular test vehicle, hence why I don't have the as-tested price or option list for this review.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      When I was driving the 2020 Lexus GS in late February, rumors were flying around that the model would be discontinued at the end of the model year. There was some credence to this rumor as sales had been falling and Lexus hasn’t been updating the model to keep it somewhat up to date with competitors. It would sometime later that we learned that the GS would be going away at the end. So this is the last look at a sedan that I liked at the beginning but now have some mixed feelings.
      Not much has changed in the overall design of the GS since our last review in 2018. The F-Sport has its tweaks such as a mesh grille insert, more aggressive bumpers, and dual-spoke wheels. I still find this sedan very striking, especially in this bright blue. The interior is much the same as the 2013 and 2017 models I have driven. Plus points are high-quality materials, very comfortable front seats, and an easy to read instrument cluster. Downsides are the very dated infotainment system and confounding controller for it; and tall transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in many Lexus and Toyota vehicles. In the GS, it produces 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. My test vehicle came with the optional all-wheel drive system, which means a six-speed automatic is standard. Sticking with rear-wheel drive gets you the eight-speed. The performance of the V6 doesn’t really wow as it once did. 0-60 takes around six seconds for the AWD version, which is unremarkable as other competitors can do the same in around five seconds or less. Not helping is the six-speed automatic which limits the flexibility of the engine. The pluses to the V6 are minimal NVH levels and silky smooth power delivery. The EPA says the GS 350 AWD will return 19 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. I saw an average of 22 mpg during my week. The GS surprised me as to how it well handled in the corners, especially in the F-Sport trim. That continues here as the GS 350 F-Sport AWD shows off minimal body roll and sharp steering. You do miss out on some of the trick features on the RWD model such as limited-slip differential and variable gear-ratio steering, but you’re likely not to notice it. What is a bit surprising is the GS F-Sport’s ride quality. Those expecting more bumps to disrupt the ride will be surprised as the GS glides over them like it was nothing. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Previously, the GS 350 F-Sport would have been my recommendation for a luxury midsize sedan with a sporting edge. Now, it is difficult for me to recommend the GS at all considering the age and how many competitors have moved forward. Right now, I would go with a BMW 5-Series as being the one for sport while the S90 takes the place of being something a bit different in the class. Still, if I had the opportunity to get my hands on the GS 350 F-Sport, I would do it. This is a prime example of do as I say, not as I do. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 350, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: GS
      Trim: 350 F-Sport AWD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve VVT- V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 311 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22
      Curb Weight: 3,891 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $54,505
      Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost my copy of the window sticker for this particular test vehicle, hence why I don't have the as-tested price or option list for this review.
    • By William Maley
      I felt very mixed when I reviewed the Mitsubishi Outlander last year, There was a lot to like about the crossover, but the list of negatives pushed me towards recommending it if you could find one at a good price. How would I feel when I drove the Outlander PHEV? Spoiler: About the same.
      (Author's Note: If you're looking for thoughts on the interior, I will direct you to my Mitsubishi Outlander review from last year as the PHEV shares all of the positives and negatives from the standard model.)
      Not much is different from the standard Outlander I drove last year to the PHEV except for the various hybrid badging around the vehicle, and additional fuel filler door on the rear passenger-side fender housing the charging outlets. The hybrid system is comprised of 60kW electric motors mounted on each axle providing 80 horsepower. The motors draw their power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery. A 2.0L inline-four acts as the generator for the battery and can power the wheels in certain situations. Total output stands at 190 hp. The driver has three different drive modes for which the Outlander can operate. EV which makes the Outlander PHEV only run electric power; Battery Save which turns on the engine to power the wheels to save charge; and Battery Charge where the generator charges up the battery. Most of my week, I found myself using Battery Save and Charge when driving on the freeway. Around town, it was left in EV or automatic mode. When the Outlander PHEV is running on electric power only, it provides enough grunt to get out of the way of traffic when leaving a green light. But begin to climb in speed and you realize this isn’t a quick car. Despite the instantaneous torque, the Outlander PHEV does take its time getting up to speed. Some of this can be attributed to the curb weight of 4,222 lbs.  Not helping is when the engine comes on to charge/power the wheels. When the engine is put under a load, it sounds very harsh and under a lot of stress. EPA figures for the Outlander PHEV are 74 MPGe (electric and gas combined) and 25 MPG (gas only combined). My average for the week landed around 35 MPGe, which is well under the EPA figure. But I will cut it a fair amount of slack as it arrived during one of the coldest weeks Michigan experienced. For electric-only range, Mitsubishi claims 22 miles. I saw between 16-18 miles which isn’t bad considering the cold temps. On recharging, Mitsubishi says that the Outlander PHEV takes about 13 hours when plugged into 120V/8A outlet, or 8 hours for a 120V/12V outlet. In my testing with 120V charging, it took about 8 hours to fully charge a depleted battery. The Outlander PHEV feels at home on long stretches of road where it shows off one of its strongest attributes, a smooth ride. On some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Outlander glided over them like it was nothing. On a winding road, the Outlander PHEV feels slightly out of its depth partly due to very num steering. What is surprising is that the PHEV doesn’t have as much body roll as the standard model when put into a corner. I feel conflicted on the 2020 Outlander PHEV as on the surface, it is a pretty competent crossover with the ability to run on electric power only. But the gas engine needs a bit of NVH work and performance could be slightly better. Also, it has several issues that I talked about in the previous Outlander. The final nail is the price; $43,600 for the top-line GT seen here. Yes, it does qualify for a federal tax credit of almost $6,000 that drops the price to under $38,000. But that still a fair amount of money for what is an old crossover.  If you can find one at a decent price, around $35,000 or less, then I would say take a closer look at it. Otherwise, wait to see Ford and Toyota’s entrants into the PHEV crossover market.  
      Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander PHEV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mitsubishi
      Model: Outlander PHEV
      Trim: GT
      Engine: 60kW Electric Motors (Front and Rear Axles), 2.0L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Single Speed Reduction Gearbox (Front & Rear), All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 80 @ 0 (Electric), 117 @ 4,500 (Gas),  190 (Total)
      Torque @ RPM: 101 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor), 144 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor), 137 @ 4,500 (Gas)
      Fuel Economy: MPGe/Gasoline Combined - 74/25
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
      Base Price: $41,495
      As Tested Price: $43,600 (Includes $1,095.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      GT Premium Interior Package - $400.00
      Pearl White Paint - $395.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats and Portfolio - $145.00
      Charging Cable Storage Bag - $70.00

      View full article
  • Posts

    • Thanks for the update on the loaner. So sorry for you Blu as a door ding I have always seen taken out without any drilling. That is an amateur's move and I would fire who ever they used. That really blows. Sorry to hear that they damaged your truck.
    • Well I have a correction to my previous post about the loaner.  The larger wheels on an LT I thought was a sure identifier of the 2.0t under the hood.  When I mashed it this morning while merging onto a 4-lane highway to get to work, I thought something had to be amiss.  Sure enough, it is a 1.5t with the bigger alloys.  My fault for not scouring the build & price site thoroughly.  Also, a lack of "2.0t" emblem on the liftgate should have been a clue.   Secondly, while my truck was in the dealership's possession, a door ding "appeared" in the driver's door.  Somebody there "discovered" it and called in their PDR guy to fix it.  He did a crappy job, PLUS... they drilled a hole in my door to gain access for the PDR tools WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, they only called me AFTER THE FACT.  So now my door is permanently marked as having PDR work done on it because of the access hole, so EVEN IF I demand that they pay to have conventional bodywork done... I'm screwed! Service advisor asked me to call him tomorrow, since I picked up my truck after hours, and tell him what I want to do.  I am pissed... because it happened, because their guy did a crappy job, but especially because they drilled my door! Transmission seems to be acting better at least, but more miles will be needed to give a final judgment.
    • Unicorn farts work well for me. In all seriousness...I love the Blue on Blu's truck but have seen a bunch of them in black. And I park by a nearly identical truck in white every morning at work.  It looks good in black and white also. But it strikes me that ZR2 with the Bison package is 90 percent of the goodness of a Raptor with none of the drawbacks. I can get a ZR2 Bison through my local carwash... something I can't do with a Raptor. Also...much better to try to get a ZR2 into a parking garage when I go to a hockey game than a Raptor. And as much as I like the Gladiator...love it actually...after a 66 Fastback Mustang...a 55 Chevy...two Miatas...a Beetle...a Cooper S...I am kind of ready for something with sleek modern styling.  The Colorado does that in spades. You create zero hot air here so...that is consistent with solar energy.
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