Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

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Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby Brian » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:50 pm

Hi Guys

Crazy busy week with big HP numbers and tons of followup work with our Longtube header...and two afternoons of autocross in the new Fiat 124. Embargo lifted 9:01pm our time, 12:01 Eastern. That means I can talk about it....except I have destination wedding to fly off to at 7am and I have not packed or done all my emails yet. So, just a teaser for now.

Yes, I like it...

Much detailed analysis to follow, lots of pics and video too.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby morrisg » Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:21 am

From the videos I saw, it looks like the Abarth comes from the factory with a set of aftermarket springs and bars with Bilsteins tuned for them. Better, but still not going to touch a set of real coilovers / springs. Thankfully, all the suspension bits developed for the ND are going to work on the Fiat 124 as well.

Now, if we could just get a knowledgable tuner to crack the 124 ECU... 8)
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby jboemler » Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:40 am

morrisg wrote:Now, if we could just get a knowledgable tuner to crack the 124 ECU... 8)


Is it really different from the Mazda?
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby Sean @ GWR » Fri Jun 10, 2016 3:00 pm

Yesterday I had to chance to finally see the new Italian roadster in the flesh at the Fiat 124 Spider launch event in San Diego. The design is much easier on the eyes in person and I think it is quite fun. Compared to the ND the Fiat reminds me of a bulldog...in a good way. After finishing photos and video for Brian, I was thrown the keys for two quick laps. Lots to take in driving the car and finding my way around the small autocross but I could not stop smiling the entire time!

Image

When the 124 Spider was announced I was torn. At a glance I thought the looks of the front end were OK and reminded me of an NB in many ways. My only complaint was the design of the rear quarter of the car left a lot to be desired. After getting seat time with the Fiat 500 Abarth that my Fiance drives, I got more and more excited for the 124 after learning it had the same powerplant as the Fiat 500 Abarth. It did not take long to realize the potential of an ND chassis with a turbo engine.

Out of the gate I immediately noticed the Fiat had a slightly heavier steering feel than the ND. The heavier steering gives you the perception the car has a little more weight to it but it is still very nimble. According to Fiat, the 124 is about 100lbs heavier than the ND and I think most folks would be hard pressed to feel the difference without some serious back to back driving.

The springs, dampers and sways are all Fiat/Abarth spec and completely different than the ND. The suspension provided a noticeably firmer ride and it was much more controlled on the autocross compared to a stock ND. While there was still a lot of body roll, the Fiat was not as nervous at the limit like the ND can be. I was able to throw the car into a corner, give it a boot full of throttle and hold a nice slide without too much effort. The only change I would want to see is a shift from the neutral-understeer bias the Fiat had to a more neutral-oversteer bias. Overall the balance was great and still very fun!

If you’ve ever driven the original MazdaSpeed then you are familiar with turbo lag. Unlike the MazdaSpeed, the 124 Spider 1.4L is very responsive and has an excellent mid range with power tapering off around 6000RPM. Below 2000RPM there is a bit of lag before the turbo spins up. Transitioning back to the throttle mid-corner you can feel a hint of lag but it did not make the car difficult to drive like the “old days” of turbocharged engines.

Living up to the Abarth name, the 124 Spider Abarth also had a very fun exhaust note. The Fiat I drove had the optional Mopar active exhaust and gave the car a bit of a dual personality which, dare I say, was almost a bit too refined. Compared to the factory Fiat 500 Abarth I wished the Fiat 124 Abarth had a little more bark. The Fiat also had the optional factory installed bypass valve which made me giggle every time and added to the experience. At the end of my two laps I realized much like the 500 Abarth, the Fiat 124 is about the experience...not outright speed.

If I was forced to pick between the ND and the new 124 Spider I would be looking at the Italian roadster in my garage. The Fiat is just FUN and every time you give it some throttle and go around a corner there is a sense of passion! If I was looking for my next track weapon, the ND would be my top choice...but a track weapon does not always make the best street car. The Fiat is the MazdaSpeed that will never be and I am OK with that. Fiat did a great job of taking the wonderful chassis Mazda created and made it their own.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby morrisg » Sat Jun 11, 2016 11:39 pm

And did you have the "Sport" mode on when you took your two laps? or off for 2 laps? Or 1 lap of each? If 1 lap each, how did Sport mode compare to "normal" mode?
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby Brian » Sun Jun 12, 2016 7:20 am

morrisg wrote:And did you have the "Sport" mode on when you took your two laps? or off for 2 laps? Or 1 lap of each? If 1 lap each, how did Sport mode compare to "normal" mode?


Sean did one lap without sport, one lap with sport.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby Brian » Sun Jun 12, 2016 7:28 am

My Review Published in DSPORT MAGAZINE at THIS LINK
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby Brian » Sun Jun 12, 2016 10:46 am

More Pics..
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....Autocross Test.

Postby Sean @ GWR » Sun Jun 12, 2016 11:59 am

morrisg wrote:And did you have the "Sport" mode on when you took your two laps? or off for 2 laps? Or 1 lap of each? If 1 lap each, how did Sport mode compare to "normal" mode?


Sport mode gave the car a bit more grunt and made it much easier to slide the car around, lots of fun! Without sport mode the car was still fun but without a doubt it felt more subdued in terms of power delivery.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby Ex-912 » Mon Jun 13, 2016 5:37 pm

Thanks, Sean and Brian for your detailed comments in these drive reviews! I've been lurking here and YouTube waiting to get info on the new 124 Abarth. You didn't disappoint me and gave me the confidence to go with my styling preference, to a new car with more built in features. I look forward to the comments on further mods here as a new member! :D
It's helpful to see that your opinions corroborate some of the other early reviews, too.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby Brian » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:54 pm

Fiat 124 Abarth....HEAR it, see it autocross, fun stuff!

[/quote]
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby pikeman » Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:43 pm

It sounds like Fiat has the right springs as original equipment. ND Club owners are swapping them out for aftermarket parts that seem to fix the roll problem. That's good. I'd expect to need an alignment right away, but there shouldn't be any need for changing parts to have the car "right".
I also appreciate the nicer trim of the Abarth.
Last month I put down a refundable deposit on a 124, but the salesperson said that, at that time, the Abarth would be available mid-year and not among the first run of cars shipped to the US.
We'll see . . .
Pete
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby mini22 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:41 pm

I wonder if you got to drive the non-Abarth versions. Obviously they are at a disadvantage with
their softer suspensions and quieter exhaust. I also understand that there is no sport button on
the Classica and the Lusso. However for those on a budget I could see taking a Classica and tweaking
it with a few after market items from Goodwin Racing. I used to own a Fiat 500 Abarth. There are a lot of
after market products out their especially for the 1.4 turbo multiair engine. There are 2 outfits that I will not
mention(don't know the protocol so figure better to be cautious) that offer a piggyback ECU and a Re-flash of the existing ECU. I actually used a Unichip on my Abarth in combination with an aggressive intake.
I also had an under drive pulley on that car as well. I will simply say it was a substantial improvement over stock.
So I'm glad that Goodwin is plunging into the 124. Look forward to the goodies' you guys come up with.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby Brian » Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:09 pm

pikeman wrote:It sounds like Fiat has the right springs as original equipment. ND Club owners are swapping them out for aftermarket parts that seem to fix the roll problem. That's good. I'd expect to need an alignment right away, but there shouldn't be any need for changing parts to have the car "right".
I also appreciate the nicer trim of the Abarth.
Last month I put down a refundable deposit on a 124, but the salesperson said that, at that time, the Abarth would be available mid-year and not among the first run of cars shipped to the US.
We'll see . . .
Pete


We have heard the same about ABARTH versions coming later, not first batch. Roll is lower in the ABARTH than the ND but serious enthusiasts will still be looking for better. We too have deposit down on 124...

CLASSICA, 6-Spd Manual, ROSSO RED...only option is 'Technology Collection'.
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Re: Fiat 124 Abarth....First Autocross Test!

Postby Brian » Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:14 pm

Our man Sean Thomson got a quick pic under the Fiat 124 Abarth 6 Speed we drove to show the factory muffler.
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