Mazda MX-5:

2017 Fiat 124 Spider – Japanese Roadster with Italian Flair

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider F34 450Fiat Turns to Mazda for Iconic Sports Car  About 50 years after first launching the Fiat 124 Spider in the United States, Fiat is launching a new Spider in Summer 2016.  The last time the Fiat 124 Spider was sold in the USA was in 1983.  To gain a desirable roadster without having to develop the car themselves, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) turned to Mazda.

Fiat wants the 124 Spider to re-establish the sporty image of the brand and communicate “fun, joyous and optimistic” motoring.

Basically, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is a reskinned Mazda Miata propelled by a Fiat MultiAir Turbo 4-cylinder engine.

Unique Exterior Styling  Take the outstanding Mazda MX-5 Miata and breathe Italian-ness on it and you have the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider.  With the rear wheel drive Mazda roadster platform as a base, Fiat has done an excellent job differentiating their little roadster from the Miata.   The proportions are definitely Miata, but the Fiat body is 5.5-inches longer with much of the length increase going to the trunk.  The exterior styling is different, maybe a bit more upscale looking.  The front end has a hexagonal grille with a honeycomb mesh flanked by styled headlamps.  It has a friendly face.  The rear has sharp horizontal LED taillamps.  Both the front and rear designs are reminiscent of the original 124 Spider.

Minor Interior Differentiation  The interior is lifted directly from the Miata with material upgrades here and there.  The seats are very comfortable and supportive with a unique sew style.  Two seat trim colors are available, black and saddle.  The saddle seat trim is very upscale looking and radio speakers in the headrests are a nice touch.  The interior has been optimized for quietness.  Being a roadster, wind buffeting can be a real problem, so care was taken in the windshield header and side window design to minimize buffeting at speed.  The top is one of the best features of the Fiat 124 Spider.  It can be opened or closed with one hand from either front seat.  Brilliant!

Unique Turbo Engine from Italy  The Fiat 124 Spider is powered by Fiat’s 1.4L MultiAir Turbo 4-cylinder engine with 160-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.  The engine block has been modified for longitudinal installation in the platform and to mate with Mazda’s excellent 6-speed manual transmission and 6-speed automatic transmission.

The suspension has been tuned a bit differently and the ride seems a bit more supple than on the Miata.  Handling is crisp as befits the short wheelbase.

Pricing Essentially Equivalent with Miata  There are three trim levels:  Classica, Lusso and Abarth.  There is also a 124 unit special edition car at launch – Prima Edizione Lusso (check all the boxes, unique blue color = $35,000).  The base Classica model is priced at $24,995 with the 6-speed manual transmission.  Destination charges are $995.  About 60% of the Fiat 124 Spider buyers are expected to opt for the automatic transmission that adds $1,350 to the price.  The volume model likely will be the $27,495 Lusso model that adds automatic headlamps, fog lamps, rain sensing wipers, automatic temperature control, leatherette and piano black instrument panel inserts, and 7-inch touch screen.  Selecting the sportiest Abarth model is $28,195.  When compared with the Miata, Lusso seems like a deal compared with the Miata Grand Touring ($31,270) except the Grand Touring Miata is fully loaded.  To get that level of equipment on the Fiat 124 Spider adds another $3,795 to the price putting the Fiat only $20 higher than the Miata (Fiat destination charge is $160 higher than Mazda – puts actual price difference at $180 higher than Miata).


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Stuck to the Dealer's Floor – Inventory Numbers Tell the Story

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Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.


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First Look: 2008 smart fortwo

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We brought you the news back in June (click here) that there is a tiny city car making its way to the U.S. market. In early 2008 U.S. buyers will finally be able to opt for this small and economical package. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice have some of the first pictures of the model, and here they are. Though we won’t get the car until early 2008, European buyers can pick one up beginning in April 2007. At the smart USA website, you can keep current on the events smart has hosted to familiarize us with the car or sign up for monthly newsletters about the car.

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How small is small?
The new smart is only 106.1 inches long, with a wheelbase of 73.5 inches. It is 61.4 inches wide, and a relatively tall package at 60.7 inches. Just to put this in perspective, smart is nearly 64 inches shorter than Chevrolet’s smallest offering, the Aveo. The 2008MY MINI is nearly 40 inches longer, the Mazda MX-5 about 51 inches longer, and even the Toyota Yaris hatchback is almost 44 inches longer. The smart could find itself an instant favorite among some circles. It has a unique personality, with its small size it fits anywhere, it is light, and it offers very economical powertrains. Wanna feel like you’re helping the world and create your own parking spot on Rodeo Drive? Buy a smart.
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Mazda Kabura Explores an Entry Sporty Coupe

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MX-5-Based Concept Introduced in Detroit
Owing more mechanically to the recently launched third-generation Mazda MX-5 (you remember, the sports car formerly known as Miata) convertible than to the RX-8 (which has been expected to spawn a two-door variant), the Kabura concept that introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show offers exterior dimensions between the MX-5 and RX-8. The concept explores the idea of an entry-level sports coupe that also offers enough interior space for today’s demanding audiences. While Mazda did not promise the Kabura is scheduled for production, they did indicate that if produced, it would stand as its own model line, alongside MX-5 and RX-8. Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents were there to take a look.
The Kabura is a two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe powered by the Miata’s 2.0L four-cylinder engine mated to the six-speed transmission and borrowing suspension setup and components from the Miata. If our recent drive of two versions of the Miata are any indication, the Kabura could be a terrifically fun car to drive, though its larger size and expanded interior utility could increase the vehicle’s weight.


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Infiniti Coupe Concept Refines G35 Design

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Evolutionary Design for Second Generation
Infiniti’s 2006 NAIAS stand prominently featured a concept done by the Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi, Japan. Though badged as Coupe Concept, the model indicates the next step for the G35 coupe and sedan. Infiniti will show the sedan at the New York Auto Show in March 2006. Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents were in town to catch the show, and the Coupe Concept was not missed.
This evolutionary design brings a sharper face with more laid-back headlights and a sharper crease in the front fascia. Changes to the rear look are minimal, with the concept using taillights that are nearly the same shape as those on the current car, though the rear fascia is shallower and the rear spoiler integrated into the decklid and more subdued.


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Saturn Sky Quietly Introduced in Los Angeles

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Spring 2006 Sales for Saturn’s First Convertible
The wait is nearly over. After the 2002 Saturn Sky concept sparked speculation about when and if Saturn would add a convertible and was followed by a concept version only twelve months ago, the production vehicle arrives at showrooms in spring 2006. The concept introduced at the Detroit auto show and the production car on display at the 2006 Los Angeles auto show are nearly identical, though the two-seat, rear-wheel-drive roadster is basically the opposite of the front-wheel-drive 2002 concept.


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Car & Driver – 10Best Cars 2006

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Every year, Car & Driver, one of the high circulation car enthusiast magazines in the United States, publishes the results of its 10Best awards. The 2006 10Best Cars awards were released in the January 2006 issue of Car & Driver and you can find them on the C&D website at (http://www.caranddriver.com/article.asp?section_id=33&article_id=10354)
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Not having looked at the winners prior to writing this blog, VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) staff conjectured about what types of cars Car & Driver would select.
We knew that, being a buff book, they’d select cars that appealed to the enthusiast, maybe throw one or two mundane winners into the mix, be heavy on import marques and generally favor smaller cars. Lets see how accurate we were?
BEST SPORTS SEDAN – Acura TSX
BEST SPORT COMPACT- Audi A3
BEST LUXURY SPORTS SEDAN – BMW 3-Series
BEST PERFORMANCE CAR – Chevrolet Corvette
BEST FULL SIZE SEDAN – Chrysler 300
BEST MUSCLE CAR – Ford Mustang GT
BEST FAMILY SEDAN – Honda Accord
BEST ROADSTER – Mazda MX-5 (Miata)
BEST SPORTS COUPE – Mazda RX-8
BEST LUXURY SPORTS CAR – Porsche Boxster
So, lets see, seven are import brands, 3 of the imports are from Germany and four are from Japan. Mazda picks up two wins with its sports cars.


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