Reader Question: The Fiata?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

John asks: What is your opinion on this little sport car by Fiat (i.e., the 124 Spyder)?

Do you think is is reliable to hold up for at least 10 years compared to the Mazda Miata? There is a big difference in price between the Fiat and the Mazda and they are almost alike.  Please give me your opinion. You do a great job on your posted articles Eric.  Keep up the great work and I wish you the best!

My reply: This one’s a mixed bag. I really like the look of the Spyder – in part because it’s good looking and also because it doesn’t look like a Miata, even though it is one – for the most part.  Not because I dislike the Miata; in fact, I love the Miata. But Miatas are as common as dandelions after a spring rain. I like something a bit different drummer and you may as well.

But

The Miata is bulletproof. Legendary for being able to withstand years of hard use without any signs of wear or tear. I have friends who race these things and drive them as their everyday cars – and who have done both to the same car for years, without mechanical problems. Sure, they go through brakes and tires like I go through coffee and bacon… but the car itself is a kind of vehicular Terminator that absolutely will not stop, ever.

The Fiata is a Miata with a Fiat engine. The same basic 1.4 liter turbo four used in the Fiat 500. It has a nice swell of torque on the low end, but it’s not as revvy as the Mazda’s larger 2.0 liter four, which isn’t turbo’d but makes more power.

The 1.4 liter Fiat engine seems to be pretty durable… in the course of normal everyday driving. But it is unknown how well it would hold up to being run hard, regularly, over many years – because we don’t have an adequate sample population to refer to. Miatas have been around  for decades; the Fiata just a few years now.

The Fiata is also softer-riding and more luxurious – which it ought to be, considering the much higher price.

I think it comes down to whether you prefer a very nice cruising car that’s quite sporty – and very distinctive – as well as being more luxurious – as opposed to a very pure sports car that was designed to be driven, hard.

I’d test drive both to get a handle on the differences – and then go from there!

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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