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Fiat Abarth 124 (Fiata)

With Fiat doing an Abarth Edition of the 124 (click here), can a tuned MazdaSpeed version of the Miata be far behind?

The European version of the Fiat Abarth 124 is already 170 hp, which means the US version will likely be a bit higher. Cool… And there’s even a rally version at nearly 300hp, but don’t look at the price (click here for a better article).

First ND Drive and Impressions

I was having a pretty bad day today, so I retreated into my favorite comfort activity, looking at cars. I’ve really got to stop that… Wait! A new 2016 Club with a manual transmission less than 100 miles away?!? The manuals are more rare that hen’s teeth right now. I’m smiling because I finally know how to make the day just a little better. I made an appointment and hit the road. I understand some don’t like the new Miata for various legitimate reasons, but here’s my take on the experience.

What I really liked (in no particular order):

1. Transmission. It’s the best ever on a Miata. The gear ratios are more evenly spaced than on the NC. On the NC, I frequently felt the need to skip every other gear because of the odd ratios.

2. Suspension. Even stock, it’s very nice. Still too soft for my tastes, but better out of the gate than previous versions. It’s also less jittery. It feels more grown up and serious.

3. The feel of the interior materials. They’re a lot nicer than the NC’s hard plastic interior.

4. The seating position. I know, I know… I already hear the groans. I feel a little lower in the ND as opposed to being perched on a low car in the NA and NB generations. The NC started this trend, and honestly, the ND isn’t any more than that, but it’s still noticeable. It may be a function of other cars I’ve driven, but that lower slung sensation makes me feel more snug and connected to the car.

5. The engine bay layout. Yeah, I know that’s probably a crazy thing to like, but it has a good design. The stupid plastic cover on the NC generation is (mostly) gone and it looks like an engine again. There’s actually some room in there. The engine itself seems more noticeably shifted rearward. It’s now easy to see this is a front mid-engined car.

6. No more Mazda grin! That said, Mazda may have gone a little too far towards aggressive, but I’m so happy the grin is gone, I’ll take it!

The top is a mixed bag for me, so I’m not going to list it as a like or a dislike. On the NC, while seated, I could reach back and close the top without exiting the car. Handy! Doing this is even easier on the ND. The top feels like maybe all of a few pounds when you’re pulling it up. It’s light! While all that’s great, the downside is it seems closer to my back and makes the back and top of the cabin seem slightly more closed in than before. Even top-down, it seems slightly less open. Some of this may be from the windshield angle, too. It’s not bad, but it is an adjustment.

What I really didn’t like (also in no particular order):

1. The diagonal LEDs on the lower front.

2. The stupid looking tablet glued to the center of the dash. I really hope the aftermarket community comes up with a delete or folding option for that. The focus of this car has always been the connection between the driver, the car, and the road. Why put a distraction like that in plain sight? I’m hoping the screen can be turned off. If not, it’s going to be majorly annoying at dusk or dark.

3. Did I mention the stupid looking tablet glued to the center of the dash? Oh, sorry…

4. While the movable cupholders are kind of a cool idea over previous fixed locations, they feel incredibly cheap and flimsy.

5. The NB and NC had a nice folding wind blocker. The ND’s pulls out leaving you holes and a loose part to keep up with. Given it’s new shape, it made be able to stay in all the time, but it does interfere with rearward visibility with the top up.

6. On the stock wheels, I think it desperately needs some lowering springs (easy fix once someone actually makes them). Stock, it sits a little high. Maybe it was expecting the recent floods?

7. The shark fin satellite antenna on the trunk. On the NC’s, it was only on the GTs. Now, it’s only missing on the Sport versions. Both the Club AND the GT now have it.

8. The window supports seem minimal when shutting the doors with the windows rolled down. The windows kind of rattle around in there. This was definitely true of NCs as well, but seemed slightly more pronounced with this particular ND.

I know these are mostly just minor styling elements, but they do add up…

After having some time to reflect without any excess Miata-induced endorphins coursing through my brain, I find myself still being impressed. The car was very fluid and felt great on twisty roads. Luckily, I was able to talk the salesman into a very long test drive. Since it was such a pretty day, I’m sure he was as happy to be out of the showroom as I was to be finally driving a manual transmission ND. It’s still exceptionally light and nimble, and it still feels comfortably small; it’s still every bit a Miata. It can also magically improve bad days.

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Should We Update The Club Logo?

Original logo (Jan 1993 – Oct 2001):
Jan 1993 - Oct 2001

Current Logo (Nov 2001 – ?):
Nov 2001 -  Oct 2013

The original logo had a 1st generation Miata on it. Our current logo has a 1st and a 2nd generation Miatas on it. There are 3 generations of Miatas now with a 4th about a year or so away. Hopefully there will be a 5th and 6th generations and the Club will be around for the next 50 years to see them. Maybe it is time to have a new Club logo designed without a recognizable generation of the Miata in it.

After a brief and random search for the logos of Miata Clubs around the country, they either have no logo that I could see, they have just the 1st Gen Miata or no Miata at all.

We have had an influx of new members and we are running out of the Club Logo decals for putting on the cars. It is time to think about reordering decals, so:

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