I purchased my 124 spider lusso manual tranny about 1 year ago. It has about 2500 miles on it. I test drove the miata for comparison. Both cars were great. I found the styling and road handling superior in the FIAT. I did test drive the automatic and do not recommend the automatic. It is a true sports car and needs the manual for the max enjoyment. I live in the Hudson valley of New York and we have many great sports car roads. It handles the curves and hills like the true sports car it is. Great curb appeal. I get many people commenting on the car's beauty. Mine is red with the tan interior.
The Mazda guts are evident in this car and that’s a good thing.The Lusso handles great, looks fantastic and is a blast to drive. Great soft top with added sound deadening to make for a quiet interior when needed. Turbo lag takes a bit to get used to but once you drive the car a bit you learn to increase the revs in 1st and then then enjoy that turbo boost. Safety package is a great add to the Lusso.Can’t say enough about the way this car drives.
I came close to buying another MX-5. It's been a few years since my last one and I'm not getting any younger. But after the test drive, I decided to test-drive a Spider at the dealer down the road. To me, it was more refined, inside and out. The ride felt more comfortable as well, and the steering was quick and true. When you gave it the gas and the turbo kicks in, it really gives you a thrill. I'm going on 3,000 miles, with my Classica, and it's still a joy to throw the top down and go for a spin (trouble-free). It's like a go-kart for grown-ups, with a rocket on the back!
Update at 8500 miles. Absolutely perfect! Getting right at 31 mph with mostly city driving. Put new Autoricambi exhaust on it because it was so quiet I kept forgetting to change gears. The new muffler-delete pipes are great! Great balls of fun!
I test drove both the Fiat and the Miata. The Miata delivers its power in a more linear fashion. The Fiat needs to get up in the Revs before it really goes. So, it feels slower off the line. A little more like a Honda S2000. So it is really down to which one appeals to you more. I would rate the Fiat at a 4 and the Mazda at a 4.5 from an everyday driving standpoint. However, I am considering this purchase for weekend pleasure drives and I find the Fiat is more exciting to me. I like the bit of quirkiness that it has over the Miata. To me this gives the Fiat a bit more excitement. If you are deciding between the Mazda and the Fiat you really need to spend some drive time in both. The interior is similar in most ways. It's really about do you fit and are you comfortable enough to enjoy the car. Also, I would mention that the edmunds review of the Fiat is a 3 and the Mazda a 4.5. This seems to me to be because of different editors approach to the car and because the Fiat review, I believe, is for the automatic which I agree is not very good with this engine. If you want an auto the Mazda is the better choice. I took a brief drive of each car with the auto but for me the manual is the way to go. I would recommend reading each edmunds review with the mindset that it applies to both cars outside of the engine. I am disappointed that Edmunds editors seem to have written these reviews in a vacuum ignoring the relation of the cars to each other.