Thursday, November 26, 2015

124 Spider By Fiat Seeks To Recapture Imagination And Space

Welcome the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider with top up.  Image Credit: FCA (2015)

124 Spider By Fiat Seeks To Recapture Imagination And Space

A 2-seat convertible roadster from Fiat was introduced at the LA Auto Show with the aid of the re-imagined platform that had held the lead in this class for decades and fueled the first rung of many racing ladder series efforts ... the Mazda Miata.

In today's vernacular, where millennials mash together two or more names (from people, places, & things) or concepts into one word, the Fiat 124 Spider becomes the Fiata.

This name ... Fiata, has a touch of fun, but ultimately, minimizes the heart and effort to re-establish Fiat back into the American and world motor culture when this proud Italian mark owned the imagination and space of the affordable and stylish 2-seat roadster sports car.

This excerpted and edited from CarScoops -

A Visual Comparison Between The Fiat 124 Spider And The Mazda MX-5
Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Posted by Bogdan Zoltan 

We knew for quite some time that Fiat was prepping to build a small, sporty roadster on Mazda’s ND platform, but we didn’t expect such a divergent result from the original MX-5. 

Even though the new Fiat 124 is technically a Mazda MX-5 with Italian-tailored clothes and a turbocharged engine, it manages to adopt a completely different character than its Nippon counterpart. But how can two cars built at the same plant (at Mazda’s Hiroshima facility) look so different?

2017 Fiat 124 Spider “romantic motoring” rear deck/quarter-panel line, badge, and tail-light are far different than the modern, non-nonsense euro-style of the Miata MX-5.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

While the MX-5 appears to be a sharp, driver-focused roadster, the 124 Spider appeals to the forgotten art of “romantic motoring”, centering its existence on driving as a form of delectation, instead of performance. 
The Italians did a pretty good job of (almost) completely masking the original design. 

Fiat’s vision mirrors the original 1974 Sport Spider, especially the later, Pininfarina-marketed Spider Azzura, both designed by the Italian coachbuilder. In fact, the similarities between the two are so striking, it actually seems like Fiat brought the Azzura in the 21st century. 

Fiat’s brand new roadster is on a completely different visual pathway compared to the Mazda’s approach. Even the proportions are somewhat changed on the 124, as it’s a bit longer with more extended overhangs; or at least it looks that way, since its back end isn’t slightly raked and the front end doesn’t slope towards the tarmac like the MX-5’s aggressive, pointy design.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider “romantic motoring” front grille.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Mazda’s front end is clean, clear and crisp, with a very unique and original style. Fiat’s front fascia, on the other hand, has a familiar vibe to it (especially the grille), even though you can’t pinpoint where it got it from. It kind of resembles Mini’s current style philosophy, even though we know it’s a very good interpretation of the original Azzura. 
At the back, the Fiat takes a trip down to memory lane once again, almost plagiarizing the Azzura. There’s no doubt the simple, gimmick-free approach, along with the slightly tilted taillights were taken from its ancestor, as the new 124 was sketched as a safe, evolutionary approach to the old car that left its distinctive mark on the US market. 

2017 Fiat 124 Spider side view has the look of a larger, more mature roadster than the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5. With the top up, a "class effect" is imparted and adds to the sense we are entering a re-newed age of "romantic motoring."  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

And yes, it looks markedly different than the MX-5, which appears to be at least 10-years younger than the 124 Spider.

In the cabin, things take a 180 degree turn, because there are practically no differences between the two models. Both the 124 Spider and the MX-5 have exactly the same layout and design. In fact, the only major game changer is the badge on the (slightly thicker) steering wheel. Perhaps cash-strapped Fiat couldn't, or wasn't prepared to, fork out for a new interior. 

Fiat’s classic approach may have cleared Mazda’s path and appeal to potential buyers, but its somewhat dated design can still spawn its very own cult of followers.
[Reference Here - Includes Photo Gallery]

In only one small way does the effort feel that Fiat, in its re-purpose of the Mazda Miata MX-5 into the 124 Spider, did not go far enough to differentiate itself from the original platform so as to make the term "Fiata" irrelevant ... like the simple addition of a factory made, integrated snap-on, hard top, for example.

Of course, this becomes a perfect SEMA segment company opportunity for product of the year in Las Vegas come 2016.

... notes from The EDJE

 LA Auto Show - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC//NOVEMBER 20-29, 2015

TAGS: Fiat, 124 Spider, Mazda, Miata, MX-5, Miata MX-5, romatic motoring, Azzura, 2015 LA Auto Show, The EDJE

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