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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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The 405HP BMW M2 Competition Really Is The Ultimate Driving Machine

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When BMW first introduced the M2, it was a clear indication that they had not forgotten about purists like me who wanted a small, lightweight, fun-to-drive sports car that could hang with the big boys come track day. And that it did.

But now they’ve taken things up a notch with the first-ever 2019 BMW M2 Competition.

As the name suggests, the M2 Competition is playing for keeps, with a new engine lifted from the M3/M4, a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter straight-six making 405 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 40 horses and 63 more lb-ft than the outgoing M2, and it’s good enough for a 0-60 time of four seconds flat and a top speed of 174 mph.

Naturally, there’s a host of chassis improvements to make the most of the added power, with lots of raiding from the M3/M4 parts bin, along with new M Sport seats, larger M Sport brakes front and rear, a new dual exhaust system, and bigger kidney grilles up front (painted black).

Overall, it’s a pretty impressive update to a vehicle that was perfectly fine as it sat, taking this lightweight track beast and dialing it up to 11. Porsche owners had better watch out!

No word on pricing just yet, but it sounds like it will be worth every penny that they’re asking. And if it turns out to be too rich for your blood, you can always pick up one of the many used M2’s that will surely be hitting the market once the M2 Competition comes out..

Speaking of which, anyone wanna buy a kidney? 🙂

What do you think of the BMW M2 Competition?

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What Do You Think Of The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro And Its Bold New Styling?

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2019 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE

This morning, Chevrolet surprised all of us with the unveiling of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro, which feature distinctive designs, new available technologies and the first-ever Turbo 1LE.

We’re not really sure why Chevrolet chose not to unveil the new Camaro at the 2018 New York Auto Show a few weeks ago, given the sheer number of consumers and media who come out to the show. But they must have had their reasons..

In any event, we got our first glimpse of the 2019 Camaro this morning, and it’s… different.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS

According to Chevy, the 2019 Camaro’s updated designs “are not only striking but also help to improve performance. For instance, the grille details and hood and fascia vents were designed for optimized air flow, either to cool components or help minimize drag or lift.”

Maybe so, but at what cost? The 2018 Camaro was a great looking ride. But the new Camaro has already got the Internet buzzing, and not in a good way. The front-end treatment is a bit much, and it’s even worse in SS trim, where the grille is mostly blacked out.

Still, if you can look past the looks, there’s a lot to like about the new Camaro. The SS model’s 6.2-liter LT1 V8 can now be paired with a 10-speed automatic, complete with custom launch control and line-lock. This transmission, co-developed with Ford, replaces the eight-speed automatic, and until now it’s only been available in the ZL1 model.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS

In addition, a new Turbo 1LE joins the V6 1LE, SS 1LE and ZL1 1LE to round out Camaro’s line of 1LE track stars. The 275 HP Camaro Turbo 1LE comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission and a tailored chassis package that includes a performance suspension with larger diameter front and rear stabilizer bars, specifically tuned dampers, stiffer rear cradle bushings and cross-axis ball joints in the rear tow links that enhance lateral stiffness

The Turbo 1LE also gets wide summer tires (275mm in the rear, 245mm in the front), Brembo brakes, a drive-mode selector with sport and track modes, a suede flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob, and optional Recaro seats, along with nearly 50-50 weight distribution.

As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the 2019 Camaro, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one so I can test it out for myself. And while I’m not 100% sold on the styling of the new Camaro, maybe it’s one of those designs that looks better in person than in photos.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro RS Convertible

What do you think of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro?

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Review: 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t

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2018 Infiniti Q50

Of all of the vehicles in the Infiniti line, the Q50 is probably the most timeless. For the 2018 model year, the Q50 shuffles a few things, but remains as it’s been for some time. Unlike many in the luxury segments, however, the 2018 Infiniti Q50 holds its age well and after a week in this sedan, we still like it for everything that it is.

Key to the Q50’s nature are its understated good looks, comfortable interior, and a strong road presence. Like most in the luxury sport sedan market, the Infiniti Q50 is offered in a variety of performance flavors from the daily driving 2.0t model with its turbocharged four-cylinder to the powerful Red Sport 400 and the fuel-sipping Q50 Hybrid model. We spent our week driving the middle-road 3.0t model with its turbocharged six-cylinder engine and would recommend it as the Q50 of choice for most buyers.

2018 Infiniti Q50

The 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t combines strong performance with a likeable price point. Much of the focus gets put on the Red Sport 400 model, which deserves that notice, but which most will likely find overpowered and too highly priced to compensate. The well-done 3.0-liter V6 in the 3.0t model outputs 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which are more than enough to make a midsize luxury sedan feel powerful and go fast. The solid range of output the engine has is well managed by the smart automatic transmission that comes attached and the tight and balanced chassis all of it sits upon.

We drove the all-wheel drive model and would recommend it for not only its added control, but its peace of mind when the weather goes sour. We had snow and bad weather during our time with the 2018 Q50 3.0t and it proved itself capable in those conditions.

2018 Infiniti Q50

Fuel economy in the 2018 Q50 is good, with the 3.0t model returning 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway on paper and a little better than that, we found, in real life. Compared to the less powerful 2.0t’s 23/31 and the more powerful Red Sport 400’s 20/26, the 3.0t’s V6 seems to balance power output and economy well.

Key to the 2018 Infiniti Q50’s appeal is its timeless exterior design, which starts with an understated front grille and hawkeye-shaped headlamps. A hoodline shaped for speed, fenders bulging with power, and an unobtrusive rear fender design all combine to make for that timeless, sport-tuned quality that the Q50 carries with it.

2018 Infiniti Q50

Our chief concerns with the Infiniti Q50 are in the interior, where the dual screen infotainment often vies with itself to see which screen will glare more often and the somewhat cramped trunk space. The latter being especially true if you prefer to carry a full-sized spare tire.

Where the interior shines, however, is everywhere else. Quality materials and high-end workmanship are seen in the cabin with ergonomics and layout being very well done. We like the low-slung dashboard, which keeps the cabin cozy without impinging on legroom, and the cushioning way the rear seating is shaped to keep rear headroom high despite the sloping roofline.

2018 Infiniti Q50

The 2018 Infiniti Q50 2.0t has a base price of $34,200 while the 3.0t starts at $38,950. We recommend bumping that over forty thousand to get the 3.0t Sport model with AWD for the best mix of accoutrements and drivetrain.

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