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Motor Trend Can’t Decide Which Is Better Between Mazda MX-5 and Fiat 124 Spider

The Mazda MX-5 Miata, as you might have heard, is the best-selling two-seat open-top sports car in the world. More than a million were built from 1989 to the present day and, all things considered, one million buyers can’t be wrong. At the present moment, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is the best sports car on sale.
Motor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 Miata 8 photos
Motor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 MiataMotor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 MiataMotor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 MiataMotor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 MiataMotor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 MiataMotor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 MiataMotor Trend Ignition tests Fiat 124 Spider against Mazda MX-5 Miata
Its purity is what makes it so great. Even the two presenters of Motor Trend Ignition agree on that. But there’s a problem with the status quo of the MX-5 Miata. And that problem, of course, is its half-brother, the Fiata. Now that Fiat has resurrected the 124 Spider, a curiosity must be clarified: which is better?

On this episode of Ignition, Jason Cammisa starts on, for all intents and purposes, the wrong foot. Here’s the introduction: “You tell any girl that you just bought a Mazda Miata, she will say, ‘Oh my God! How cute! What’s your boyfriend’s name?” I’m sorry, Jason, but people calling the MX-5 gay are either beer-bellied big boys who can’t fit inside, individuals with an uncertain sense of humor, or people who have never driven a Miata.

Moving on to more important matters than calling people gay, the Miata is riddled with downsides. When we drove the fourth-gen Mazda MX-5, we couldn’t help but feel that the two-seater sports suffers from lots of body roll when the going gets twisty. In my opinion, this makes it even more fun.

The Fiata, which is also made in Japan despite the Fiat badge up front, has a different suspension setup. As Jason points out in his video review, this makes the 124 Spider more sure-footed in the twisties. In turn, this means that the car tells the driver that it’s OK to push it even harder. But then again, the Miata-based 124 Spider also has its share of bad points.

It’s longer, it’s heavier, it’s turbo instead of naturally aspirated, the manual tranny is taken from the third-gen MX-5, it “sounds like nothing” is happening under the hood, it drinks a lot more fuel than the MX-5 when driven hard, there’s lag when driving in the city, and so forth. Despite everything, it has its own personality, a relatively different one from the Mazda.

Without further beating around the bush, Jason can’t decide which of the two he would buy if it were his money. I totally agree with that. Even though I’m a hardcore MX-5 guy, I’m totally down with the Fiata because the 124 Spider is meant for a different demographic. And like Jason ends his enjoyable review, there’s no winner on this episode of Motor Trend's Ignition.

If there were a winner in this story, that would be the Mazda MX-5 Miata ND with the hydraulic steering rack from the MX-5 Miata NC and the suspension setting of the Fiat 124 Spider. Now that would be heaven indeed.

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