Bias alert. I have owned a Miata. I am also the founder of the Facebook Fiat 124 Spider 2017 Fan club. You decide which makes me biased. Having just tested the two best roadsters in the world back to back to this fan of both cars it seems like the choice is obvious, but it depends on priorities.
You Love Driving – Buy the Miata
Drive five minutes in both cars back to back and the Miata’s engine puts it ahead. That is my opinion, and it was universal among the many journalists I asked who drove both cars at an event I attended this week. The Miata’s new (to the Miata) 2.0-liter, normally-aspirated engine (non-turbo for those that don’t speak car-geek) is so perfect for a compact roadster it almost too good to be true. Yes, more power is almost always welcome in any sporting car, but with the Miata being a sub-six-second car to sixty miles per hour now we can stop calling the Miata slow. But the new quickness is not why it is so great.
It’s the vibrations, the instant response, the subliminal message that says “Please, please let me operate between 3,500 and 6,000 RPMs all day long!” This car loves to rev, and it feels awesome doing so. Zing! Zing! Zing! Now you’re in 3rd gear going about 45. In a normal car, you shift to fourth. In the Miata, you look ahead and see a turn in a half-mile and leave the car at 4,000 RPM.
The Miata out-pulls the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth when you are in a cruising gear at 2,000 RPMS and want to gradually speed up without shifting. The Miata feels good on its way up the rev band. The Fiat 124 feels flat by comparison. I wish it were not true, but the Fiat’s turbo engine is not as fun, and the Spider Abarth is not as quick as the Miata. In a car that has long been quickness-challenged, every little bit matters. I don’t care that the Abarth has a bit more HP on paper than the Miata. It feels a bit slower, and multiple instrument tests have also proven that result.
You Plan to Cruise and Take Road Trips – Buy Either
Imagine you are going away with your significant other on a long weekend road trip. The plan is to tour the back-roads, take in the view, and enjoy the drive. Both cars will be brilliant. There are few vehicles at any price point that can do this as well. Maybe the Porsche Boxster, MINI Cooper S Convertible, and some of the supercars from Italy and Germany. Maybe.
So you have your stuff all laid out, and some things will have to stay. With the Fiat, you can take just a bit more stuff than with the Miata. That matters. I’ve been there. Members of the Fiat fan club have been there. The Fiat’s larger of the two tiny trunks is better. If only by one hat, binoculars, or a sweater. Still, small things matter when one takes a road trip in a small car.
Looks – You Know Who Wins This Category
Which car is better looking is obvious. Can’t you see it? It is right there in front of you. Having always hated reading stories in which the writer decided on a car’s looks, I will say this. One looks better to you. To you, that tips the car to your column, maybe even balancing the Miata’s engine advantage if you prefer the Fiat. I will withhold my personal opinion because I love them both. Particularly in person. The Spider looks better in front of you than in images.
The Clear Winner Is….
No way are we picking one winner! You decide. We have given you some firm facts, and some pretty clearly explained opinions. There is no wrong choice between these two amazing cars. Tell us below which you took home, or would like to, and why.