Although the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider borrows its chassis from the fourth-generation Mazda Miata, the Japanese-built Italian roadster features a unique engine and suspension tuning. On this episode of "Ignition," host Jason Cammisa, who lovingly nicknamed the 124 Spider as the "Fiata," drives both cars back-to-back to see which roadster offers the more satisfying driving experience.
Power for the Miata comes from an all-aluminum naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Skyactiv DOHC direct-injected I-4, while the Fiata sports an iron-block/aluminum head, turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir SOHC I-4. The Miata makes 155 hp at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm, where the 124 Spider Classica makes 160 hp at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb-ft at 3,200 rpm. The Fiat's relatively low-tech engine adds approximately 100 pounds to the front of the car. Both cars can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Cammisa starts off in a Miata, which placed high in both the 2015 Best Driver's Car and 2016 Car of the Year competitions. Cammisa's biggest complaint about the Miata is the excessive body roll in fast corners.
Next, he hops into a base 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica with the 160-hp engine, manual transmission, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Compared to the smooth-revving Mazda engine, the Fiata suffers from turbo lag, but it makes up for it with lots of mid-range torque. The unique suspension tuning eliminates the Miata's body roll for more predictable handling.
After driving both cars through the canyons, Cammisa heads to an autocross course to see how they handle. Both cars are tested on the Fiata's less performance-oriented rubber. Check out the video below to see which car was faster around the course and which one Cammisa preferred overall.