Posts Tagged ‘fiat’

The 2016 Mazda Miata is Finally Here

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

driving matters

Today’s the day. The fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is finally here. Across the web, a flood of “first drive reviews” have been published within the last 24 hours. And, Mazda’s given us an intriguing promotional video to kick off the roadster’s career…

Lots of automakers claim that their sports car offers drivers a 50/50 weight distribution between the front and back, but few of them actually go to the trouble to prove it. How do you prove a 50/50 weight distribution, you ask? Easy – you put it on a perfectly balanced fulcrum scale to see if it stays level. And that’s exactly what Mazda did:

Wow – not only is the new Miata perfectly balanced, it’s also the lightest-weight version of the car we’ve had since the original 1990 version with a curb weight of just 2,332 lbs.

Okay, so the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is a piece of sheer engineering genius. Got that. The question is, does that mechanical prowess translate into on-road performance? Does the new generation of the most iconic sports car of the past quarter-century live up to the hype?

Short answer, yes.

Here are a few of the “first drive” reviews across the web:

Jalopnik says that “even though it has 12 fewer horsepower than the last [Miata], it’s faster. And more nimble. And more comfortable. And better. Better in every conceivable way. This is easily the best performance car you can buy for less than $30,000.”

High praises, but that’s just the beginning.

2016 Mazda MX-5 manufactured

For their part, Car and Driver were most impressed with the car’s similarity to the 1990 version of the Miata… Not just in size and weight, but in the euphoric driving experience the car offers. Throughout their review, they echo the sentiment of Jalopnik… Everything is better, from the cockpit to the engine to the design to the drive.

Yahoo Autos was the first to identify a ‘con’ in the 2016 Miata. Yep, they rightly pointed out that the car makes “all the sacrifices necessary to make it a pure driver’s machine.” But then again, Yahoo’s biggest pro for the car is that it’s “a pure driver’s machine, at a blue-collar price,” so this ‘con’ is tongue-in-cheek at best. Our favorite part of Yahoo’s review is where they list the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ and “the death of fun” as the car’s biggest competitors.

Are you starting to get the picture? According to all major sources, the 2016 Mazda Miata absolutely lives up to the hype… And then some.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2010 Fiat 500

2010 Fiat 500

Although the Fiat 500 isn’t technically a roadster in the same way that the Miata is, it’s still one of the sports car’s biggest competitors currently on the road.

2010 Fiat 500 rear

It isn’t so much that the cars are in the same segment, but that they attract the same niche of drivers… Drivers who want something fun and emotional to drive, unique to look at, and budget-friendly.

2010 Fiat 500 interior

This is a 2010 model year, which would make it the third model year after the car’s 2007 revival. It’s actually in superb condition for being five years-old with an auction rating of 4.5, a total of four minor blemishes on the exterior, and an A-grade interior to boot. You can get more details from the auction sheet translation below:

2010 Fiat 500 auction sheet

“Interior A, first registered February 2010, 1.4 16V Lounge model, AT, AAC, original AWs, power steering, power windows, leather, airbag, one owner, service book, HDD navigation system with digital TV and DVD playback, reversing camera, AM 16 inch AWs, half-leather seats, electrical opening, chrome mirror covers, 2 x keyless keys, spare key, first time in auction, some service history (5 pages), official dealer RHD import, interior trim has minor scratches, wheels scratched, marks as per map”


Japanese Car Auction Find – 2007 Alfa Romeo Brera

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Earlier this week we learned that the Fiat group would be releasing their version of the Mazda MX-5 Miata as the revived Fiat 124 Spider. Prior to that announcement, we had expected that the Italian automaker would opt to release their version of the Japanese roadster as an Alfa Romeo model. Turns out that only fully Italian-sourced cars can be sold under the Alfa Romeo name. So, today we’re looking at a 2010 Alfa Romeo Brera Japanese car auction find:

2007 Alfa Romeo Brera

For those unfamiliar with last decade’s Alfa Romeo lineup, the Brera is essentially the bigger coupe brother to the Alfa Romeo Spider (which is a roadster). Only 21,786 total units of the Brera were built throughout the car’s production, which lasted from 2005 to 2010. As a 2010 model year, this would have been the last year the Brera was available.

The Alfa Romeo Brera is an extra-relevant auction find this week because the concept, the production model and all its updates were shown first at the Geneva Motor Show… The concept in 2002, the production model in 2005, and the upgrades in 2008 and ’09.

2007 Alfa Romeo Brera rear

Looking at the auction sheet at the bottom of this post, you can see that this is specifically an Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 JTS Q4 model. Since this is a pre-2008 update model, the ‘3.2 JTS’ means we’re looking at a 3.2L engine that outputs 256 horsepower at 6200 rpm, and 237 lb-ft of torque at 3800 rpm. Top speed is rated at 149 mph (244 km/h) and 0 to 60 time is 7.2 seconds.

The 2008 update for the Brera also introduced Alfa Romeo’s e-Q2 limited slip differential to all models, and integrated aluminum parts to reduce the curb weight of the car.

Alfa Romeo Brera

Unfortunately, this particular auction find only offers us a couple small images of the design. Fortunately, we’ve found some larger manufacturer-sourced images to give you a better idea of just how sleek and, well, Italian-looking (there’s no other way to describe it) the Brera looks on the road. You can see the classic downward triangle with Alfa’s sigil at the top, the triple headlight design and the smooth, minimalist body lines that define the overall tone of the Italian automaker’s former flagship coupe.

Alfa Romeo Brera interior

Inside, the Brera’s large rear-end allows for some serious rear passenger space. A leather interior and plenty of amenities around the cabin make for a truly pleasurable and fun-filled drive. And this find is in pretty good shape too, with an overall rating of 4.5 and a B-grade interior and exterior. Get a full translation below the auction sheet:

2007 Alfa Romeo Brera auction sheet

“Interior B, exterior condition B, first registered December 2007, 3.2 JTS Q4 Skysound model, 4WD, 6-speed manual transmission, AAC, HDD navigation system, digital TV, official dealer LHD import, rear view reversing camera, power steering, power windows, original AWs, airbag, leather seats, model year unknown, stone chips in front windscreen, interior grime and wear and tears and scratches, seats worn and torn, steering wheel worn, airbag warning light on, minor scratches and minor dents, wheels scratched, door mirrors scratched, marks as per map”


Fiat 124 Spider Will Be the Italian Mazda MX-5

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

2016 Mazda MX-5

We’ve known for a while now that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Mazda were working on a partnership around Mazda’s new MX-5 Miata roadster, which made its European debut last week in Geneva.

Thanks to a report from AutoExpress, we’ve just learned that Fiat’s version of the new roadster will be sold as the Fiat 124 Spider.

This fits perfectly in line with earlier rumors from late last year that Fiat had trademarked the 124 nameplate. At the time, the trademark application was confusing because Fiat actually already sold a 124 Spider from 1966 to 1980… We had no idea whether the trademark was meant to protect their old model’s name or introduce a newcomer. Turns out, it’s a little of both.

Old Fiat 124 Spider

The old Fiat 124 Spider was a four-seat convertible. With this news, we know that the new one will be a two-seat roadster sharing the same engine and platform as the Mazda MX-5. However, while the underpinnings will remain the same, Fiat plans to launch their sister car with a more retro styling than allowed by Mazda’s Kodo design language. Their car, execs say, will more closely emulate the early Fiat 124 of the 60’s – a traditional European roadster.

Click here to see Fiat’s first official projections for what the new 124 Spider might look like.

We also learned specific details of the partnership between Mazda and Fiat at Geneva. Both cars will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant. However, Mazda will get to take center stage with their new MX-5 for a full 12 months throughout 2015 and into 2016. Then, Fiat will launch their new Miata-based 124 Spider in 2016 once Mazda’s had plenty of time to make rounds through all the major auto events.

2016 Mazda MX-5 side view

In addition, we learned Fiat may offer an Abarth version of the new 124 Spider with an extra hot powertrain… Up to 200 hp hotter, in fact. However, we expect that Fiat will do their due diligence to determine demand for an up-tuned instead of launching it blindly alongside the 124 Spider.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 1997 Fiat Barchetta

1997 Fiat Barchetta

Unfortunately, there were no old Fiat 124s up for auction in Japan at the time of this writing. However, we did manage to dig up this ’97 Fiat Barchetta in our Integrity Exports Japanese car auction database. “Barchetta” means “little boat” in Italian, so you can see where this spunky little soft top gets its design.

1997 Fiat Barchetta rear

Under the hood you’ll find a 1.8L DOHC petrol engine that outputs 130 hp and 121 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly, this was the first Fiat production model to make use of variable camshaft timing to optimize engine performance. It’s got a top speed of 124 mph and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just a hair under 9 seconds (8.9 to be exact).

To learn more about this 1997 Fiat Barchetta, keep reading below the auction sheet:

1997 Fiat Barchetta auction sheet

“Interior C, exterior C, first registered June 1997, Barchetta model, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, official dealer left-hand drive import, grey and black interior, spare key, ABS, airbag, power steering, power windows, engine oil leak, glue on dashboard, light line scratches on exterior paintwork, seats have minor stains and medium wear and also fraying, shift knob is worn, ceiling lining grime, minor interior grime, steering wheel worn, touch paint marks, scratches underneath bumpers, aftermarket alloy wheels, fuel Paintwork is faded, front windshield has stone scratches, other marks as per map”


Import Car Sales in Japan Up 31% in May

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

While Japanese manufacturers saw their domestic sales drop 33.4% in May 2011, sales of non-Japanese import cars rose by 7.9%, with the remaining increase of 31%  the result of greater imports of domestic Japanese brands from their overseas production facilities.

The major winners among the top 10 import car brands are as follows:

  1. Volvo – up 69.7%
  2. Renault – up 45.4%
  3. Fiat – up 40.3%
  4. Porsche – up 29%
  5. Audi – up 21.3%

(Figures are as compared with the same period in 2010.)

The numbers of cars from non-Japanese makers, as well as imports from overseas manufacturing facilities of Japanese makers has now reached an unprecedented level. For example, in April 2011 about 1 in 4 (23.5%) of regular passenger cars sold in Tokyo were of foreign origin, and this level continued the following month with the May figure reaching 21%.

One of the major factors in this increase in overall foreign-origin car imports to Japan has been Nissan’s March manufacturing base in Thailand coming online recently. May 2011 saw Nissan import 3,274 vehicles, as compared with just 4 imported in May 2011.

Although Nissan has recently made a commitment to continue large-scale production in Japan for the Japanese market, it remains to be seen how many other makers will be following their lead in establishing offshore production facilities to service Japanese consumers. As I noted in my previous blog post, premium foreign makers are also seeing an opportunity to grab market share from brands such as Lexus, which could see these marques increasingly infiltrating Japan’s new car market.

Sources: JAIA, Tokyo Shinbun (both Japanese-language)