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Review: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider

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The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is the resurgence of an old favorite. Back in the day, Fiat was best known for their topless 124 and now that the carmaker is making a comeback in the US, it seemed like a good idea to play to that nostalgia with the 124 Spider. The result is a classy little car that’s fun all the way around.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider sits atop a Mazda MX-5 Miata chassis, taking all of the goodness of the Miata and giving it an Italian twist. The engine and transmission are all Fiat, as is the body styling. The interior is kind of halfway between with some Fiat elements mixed in with Mazda’s MX-5 interior design.

What this results in is a Fiat 124 Spider that is loveable, fun, and endearing. There are downsides, of course. Namely that it’s a two-seat convertible made for Romans, so the big and tall will not likely be very comfortable in this tiny car. The Miata suffers from the same issue. I say “suffers” because I am one of those big and tall who really wants to fit, but just doesn’t quite make it.

I want to fit because the 124 is a ton of fun to drive. It’s zippy, handles very well, and just exudes good times. Driving along with my best girl and a lot of waving at the cars slowing down to check us out is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Powering the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is a little turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission that puts out 160 horsepower and 184 foot pounds, as we drove it. Want even more power? The Abarth model kicks things up a notch thanks to some exhaust tuning and other tweaks.

Sure, there’s a six-speed automatic available, but we would not recommend leaving the fun of manual shifting behind. The shift throw and ease of the clutch in the little Fiat are awesome and rev matching for gear floating is easy to learn to do; especially when pushing the speeds and gear jumping from first to third. The Fiat is just a joy to pilot and the gear shifting definitely adds to that.

Another fun aspect of the Fiat 124 Spider is the drop-top. It’s ridiculously easy to operate, with a single latch to unlock and easy manual movement. It can be done from the driver’s seat without fuss. Just unlock it and throw it back. Almost literally. Closing it is similar, with a simple lever pull to unlock from the open position and pull forward. The roof is so easy to manipulate that my seven year old was able to do it.

The interior of the 124 Spider is simple, but not cheap. With the exception of last-minute add-on cupholders, which are sort of hung into place and seem to beg to be broken by an errant knee or elbow, the interior has a quality about it that belies the price point of the car. Also of note is the sound dampening in the Fiat, which is far better than that found on the Miata.

Getting in and out of the Fiat 124 is another challenge for the big and tall. At 6’3″ and well over 200 pounds, I had to employ all of my expertise with sports cars to maneuver into and out of the little Fiat. Being motivated by how great the car is, though, it wasn’t too much effort comparatively. Shorter sills and good seat bolstering help this along.

As for trunk space in the Fiat 124 Spider, it’s actually bigger than it looks. We managed to stuff enough items in there to make for a weekend getaway, but we had to pack intelligently to do so. Trunk space measures just shy of 5 cubic feet, which was enough to fit a couple of carry-on bags, a shoebox, a garment bag, and a large shoulder bag.. without sitting on the deck lid to get it closed! Jersey mobsters looking to haul bodies will have to find a different Italian car for their needs, though.

The overall impression that the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider gives is one of joy and fun. It drives very well, puts out just enough power to stay interesting, and feels engaging at all times. Like all roadsters, it’s cramped, but the Fiat has a lot to make up for that.

Pricing for the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider starts at around $25,000, with our nicely-equipped tester coming in at a very reasonable $27,500. We think it’s a fun little roadster and highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for some fun in the sun!

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  1. Pingback: Review: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider – Aaron on Autos

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The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Gets A Substantial Power Boost, Higher Redline

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2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

When we drove the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, it didn’t take long for us to fall for it, as it offers one of the purest driving experiences out there. In fact, we described the ND as “the most fun you can have for under $30K”. And that’s a statement I’ll stand by today.

If you’re looking for a car that will deliver maximum smiles per hour as you go flat out through the twisties, it honestly doesn’t get much better than this. Seriously, if I lived in an area with fun roads (and less snow), there’d be a Miata parked in my garage right now.

Still.. a little extra power would be nice, as the Miata only has 155 horsepower on tap, which is less than the Fiat 124 Spider, even though they’re essentially the same cars!

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

But that’s about to change. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a substantial bump in power, with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, with a richer torque curve throughout the car’s entire rev range. And the redline has increased from 6,800 rpm to 7,500 rpm.

While an additional 26 HP might not sound like much, it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio. The Miata is a lightweight car in it’s own right, weighing in at 2,300 pounds and change, which is 1,000 less than most “regular” cars. Coupled with the better torque curve, it’s going to make a HUGE difference in the way the car drives. Zoom-Zoom!

Mazda says the new MX-5 is quicker, more responsive and aims to be more engaging to drive, adhering to Mazda’s unique Jinba Ittai — “horse and rider as one” — engineering philosophy.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Beyond the engine improvements, the 2019 MX-5 introduces an available brown canvas soft top, new black metallic 17-inch wheels, a newly telescoping steering wheel (30mm of travel), easier-to-open doors and revised door stops and revised cupholders and seat levers. There are also some additional safety features.

The 2019 Mazda MX-5 will be available in the U.S. this fall, with pricing, packaging and full specifications to be announced closer to on-sale timing.

Of course, the age old question.. Go with a new 2019 Miata, or get a left-over ’18 model for a big discount? Decisions, decisions..

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The 2019 BMW 8 Series Is The Luxury Super Coupe We’ve Been Waiting For

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2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe

When BMW unveiled the Concept 8 Series last year, it caused quite a stir for obvious reasons. After all, it had been nearly 20 years since the last 8 Series rolled off the production line back in 1999, and we had long given up on BMW ever bringing back the storied nameplate.

But was the Bavarian car company just teasing us with another sexy concept that wouldn’t see the light of day, as is so often the case?

Today, we got our answer, with the introduction of the all-new 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe, a luxury sports coupe that is ready to take on the competition with outstanding performance, beautiful design and state of the art technology.

2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe

The directive for the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s design was to provide a thrilling driving experience. Body, powertrain and suspension were honed to achieve the agility, precision and poise expected of a top-class luxury sports coupe.

Styling wise, the production model stays fairly true to the concept, exuding “a very modern form of sporting appeal beautifully blended with an air of exclusiveness and sensual allure.” The 8 Series is the first model to show off BMW’s new design language that is focusing on modernity and emotional engagement.

2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe

The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window pillars, a roofline with a distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and wide track are the defining elements of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s proportions.

The first variant to launch, the BMW M850i xDrive, is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that puts out a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, launching the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. And it will serve up an enthralling soundtrack along the way.

2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe interior

As the name suggests, the BMW M850i is equipped with xDrive rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive, and it’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that has been updated with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Shift paddles on the steering wheel are included as standard for manual gear selection, while a Launch Control function allows for accelerating from a standing start with maximum available traction.

Being BMW’s flagship vehicle, the car will come loaded with luxury features and technology, more than there’s space for here to go on about. But rest assured, you’ll be rolling around in the lap of luxury, and the envy of all of your neighbors.

Pricing for the BMW 8 Series Coupe will be released closer to its launch date this Fall.

What do you guys think about the 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe?

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New 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 Would Get Carroll’s Stamp Of Approval

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2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

When the 2018 Ford Mustang launched last Fall, there were a number of models for buyers to choose from (EcoBoost, GT, Performance Pack 1, Performance Pack 2, Bullitt). But one model that was noticeably absent from the list was the track-ready Shelby GT350.

Like many others, I figured that Ford Performance was focused on the upcoming 2020 Shelby GT500, and that the Shelby GT350 would ultimately get phased out. But Ford surprised us the other day when they unveiled a new 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 at a media event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.

As you can see from these photos, the Shelby GT350 doesn’t adopt the 2018 Mustang’s styling updates, continues on with the same exterior design as before. Nor does it receive any changes under the hood, sticking with the glorious 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 that puts out 526HP at 8,250 rpm and 429 lb-ft. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

So what is new? Ford Performance engineers and designers incorporated the latest advances in tire, aerodynamics and chassis technology into the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350.

Working exclusively with Michelin, the team also engineered new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a Shelby GT350-specific tread pattern and different compound to deliver more grip for significantly improved acceleration and lateral acceleration, as well as braking. These tires are wrapped around new 19-inch aluminum wheels.

An all-new rear spoiler with optional Gurney flap and optimized grille closeout was designed and tuned with experience gained from wind tunnel development of the Ford Performance Mustang road course racing cars and upcoming Shelby GT500 model. Together, they deliver significant rear greater aerodynamic efficiency when equipped with the new optional Gurney flap on the rear spoiler, which will be available after launch.

2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Upgrades to Shelby GT350’s standard MagneRide active suspension complement the aero and tire enhancements with recalibrated springs and revised damping to take full advantage of the improvements.

Stopping power is provided by six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper Brembo brakes. For added control and improved driver feedback, Shelby GT350’s electric power-assist steering and three-mode electronic stability control settings feature enhancements taken from Ford Performance’s hundreds of hours of competitive track testing.

The result of all of these tweaks and adjustments? A more balanced, higher-performing car on the straightaways and especially in the corners.

2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

“The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs.

Honestly, I didn’t think the Shelby GT350 could get any better than it already was, but clearly I was wrong. The new model will be the benchmark for the competition, and I can’t wait to get some seat time with it.. hopefully on a race track!

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