Wednesday, November 25, 2015

124 Spider By Fiat Seeks To Recapture Imagination And Space

Welcome the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider with top up.  Image Credit: FCA (2015)

124 Spider By Fiat Seeks To Recapture Imagination And Space

A 2-seat convertible roadster from Fiat was introduced at the LA Auto Show with the aid of the re-imagined platform that had held the lead in this class for decades and fueled the first rung of many racing ladder series efforts ... the Mazda Miata.

In today's vernacular, where millennials mash together two or more names (from people, places, & things) or concepts into one word, the Fiat 124 Spider becomes the Fiata.

This name ... Fiata, has a touch of fun, but ultimately, minimizes the heart and effort to re-establish Fiat back into the American and world motor culture when this proud Italian mark owned the imagination and space of the affordable and stylish 2-seat roadster sports car.

This excerpted and edited from CarScoops -

A Visual Comparison Between The Fiat 124 Spider And The Mazda MX-5
Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Posted by Bogdan Zoltan 

We knew for quite some time that Fiat was prepping to build a small, sporty roadster on Mazda’s ND platform, but we didn’t expect such a divergent result from the original MX-5. 

Even though the new Fiat 124 is technically a Mazda MX-5 with Italian-tailored clothes and a turbocharged engine, it manages to adopt a completely different character than its Nippon counterpart. But how can two cars built at the same plant (at Mazda’s Hiroshima facility) look so different?

2017 Fiat 124 Spider “romantic motoring” rear deck/quarter-panel line, badge, and tail-light are far different than the modern, non-nonsense euro-style of the Miata MX-5.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

While the MX-5 appears to be a sharp, driver-focused roadster, the 124 Spider appeals to the forgotten art of “romantic motoring”, centering its existence on driving as a form of delectation, instead of performance. 
The Italians did a pretty good job of (almost) completely masking the original design. 

Fiat’s vision mirrors the original 1974 Sport Spider, especially the later, Pininfarina-marketed Spider Azzura, both designed by the Italian coachbuilder. In fact, the similarities between the two are so striking, it actually seems like Fiat brought the Azzura in the 21st century. 

Fiat’s brand new roadster is on a completely different visual pathway compared to the Mazda’s approach. Even the proportions are somewhat changed on the 124, as it’s a bit longer with more extended overhangs; or at least it looks that way, since its back end isn’t slightly raked and the front end doesn’t slope towards the tarmac like the MX-5’s aggressive, pointy design.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider “romantic motoring” front grille.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Mazda’s front end is clean, clear and crisp, with a very unique and original style. Fiat’s front fascia, on the other hand, has a familiar vibe to it (especially the grille), even though you can’t pinpoint where it got it from. It kind of resembles Mini’s current style philosophy, even though we know it’s a very good interpretation of the original Azzura. 
At the back, the Fiat takes a trip down to memory lane once again, almost plagiarizing the Azzura. There’s no doubt the simple, gimmick-free approach, along with the slightly tilted taillights were taken from its ancestor, as the new 124 was sketched as a safe, evolutionary approach to the old car that left its distinctive mark on the US market. 

2017 Fiat 124 Spider side view has the look of a larger, more mature roadster than the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5. With the top up, a "class effect" is imparted and adds to the sense we are entering a re-newed age of "romantic motoring."  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

And yes, it looks markedly different than the MX-5, which appears to be at least 10-years younger than the 124 Spider.

In the cabin, things take a 180 degree turn, because there are practically no differences between the two models. Both the 124 Spider and the MX-5 have exactly the same layout and design. In fact, the only major game changer is the badge on the (slightly thicker) steering wheel. Perhaps cash-strapped Fiat couldn't, or wasn't prepared to, fork out for a new interior. 

Fiat’s classic approach may have cleared Mazda’s path and appeal to potential buyers, but its somewhat dated design can still spawn its very own cult of followers.
[Reference Here - Includes Photo Gallery]

In only one small way does the effort feel that Fiat, in its re-purpose of the Mazda Miata MX-5 into the 124 Spider, did not go far enough to differentiate itself from the original platform so as to make the term "Fiata" irrelevant ... like the simple addition of a factory made, integrated snap-on, hard top, for example.

Of course, this becomes a perfect SEMA segment company opportunity for product of the year in Las Vegas come 2016.

... notes from The EDJE

 LA Auto Show - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC//NOVEMBER 20-29, 2015

TAGS: Fiat, 124 Spider, Mazda, Miata, MX-5, Miata MX-5, romatic motoring, Azzura, 2015 LA Auto Show, The EDJE

Monday, November 23, 2015

LA Auto Show - Mercedes Benz Presentation

LA Auto Show - Mercedes Benz Presentation


L.A. Auto Show 2015: Mercedes Benz GLS
By Brian Thevenot - LA Times

What is it?
A full-size, full-luxury, seven-seat people hauler. Mercedes calls it the “S-Class among SUVs.” The automaker hasn’t released pricing, the S-Class reference – the same one applied to its flagship sedan – likely signals the starting price will rise over the GL model it will replace, which starts in the mid-$60,000 range. With options, figure easily six figures. An ultra-luxury Maybach model is also planned.

Why it matters:
Luxury sport utility vehicles are among the hottest and most competitive segments in the auto industry, and the GLS could be among the highest-caliber offerings. If it truly matches the luxury and performance of the S-Class sedan, it will be a formidable competitor.

What’s new:
A full range of powerful gas and diesel engines carry on in similar form, some with decent bumps in power. The top-line performance GLS63 gets a whopping 577 horsepower, 27 more than on the previous model. A lot of extras and details have been upgraded, including Dynamic Select transmission modes; Airmatic air suspension; a 9-speed automatic transmission; a redesigned exterior and lights all around; redesigned center console; and a range of new lightweight alloy wheels.

The competition:
Lexus GX and LX, Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, BMW X5. In Maybach trim, the GLS could rival the ultra-luxury Bentley Bentaga and an expected SUV offering from Rolls Royce.

The details:
Powertrain: 3.0-liter V6 diesel; 3.0-liter V6 Biturbo; 4.7-liter V8 Biturbo; 5.5-liter AMG Biturbo

Transmission: 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic; AMG Speedshift 7G-Tronic

Fuel economy: not released; 2015 version gets 13 to 19 mpg city/17 to 26 mpg highway, depending on engine choice.

Horsepower: 255; 362; 449; and 577 for the respective engines

Torque: 455; 369; 516; 561 pound-feet


L.A. Auto Show 2015: 2016 Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster
By Charles Fleming - LA Times

What is it:
Mercedes is refreshing the vaunted SL line, adding a 450 version to the 550 and two AMG models, bringing a slightly more affordable entry-level car to this high-end division.

Why it matters:
In a strengthening economy, the luxury sports car segment is hot again. Porsche is coming out with a revised 911 line. BMW has refreshed its 7-Series. Jaguar is pushing forward with its XE. Mercedes is adding more power, performance and luxury to the SL line. Horsepower figures for the four models range from 362 on the SL450, 449 for the SL550, 577 for the AMG SL63 and a whopping 621 for the AMG SL65.

What's new:
The SL line has a new lower, sleeker face with a more steeply sloped radiator grille. Short A-pillars and a long hood enhance the race car look.

The competition:
Porsche 911, Aston Martin Vantage, Jaguar XE

The details:
Powertrain: BiTurbo engines ranging in size from 3.0 liters on the 450 to 6.0 on the AMG SL65

Transmission: 9-speed automatic in SLs, AMG Speedshift in AMGs

Fuel economy: N/A

Horsepower: 362 to 621

Torque: 369 to 738



... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: L.A. Auto Show, 2015, Mercedes Benz, GLS, SL, Roadster, AMG, The EDJE, LA Times

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Formula E Race 2, Season 2, Gets Racy And Viewers

Image Credit: FIA Formula E

Formula E Race 2, Season 2, Gets Racy And Viewers

In the short life of FIA's technology promotion of automobile street racing known as Formula E, most expect reliability and stable performance, with few accidents to characterize an event. After all, the cars are based on a formula that uses electric-power that has to be modulated during the race in order to get the most from a two car, one exchange pit-stop race to the end.

What happened on the track during the YCM Putrajaya ePrix ... the second race of season two came to be as unexpected as the level of TV broadcast viewership in North America.

Image Credit: FIA Formula E

Even before the race had started, Stephane Sarrazin was in trouble as his Venturi cut out on the dummy grid. With the Frenchman unable to take up his place on the front row alongside the Julius Baer Pole Position winner Sebastien Buemi, the start had to be delayed as he was pushed to the back of the field.

With no one directly alongside him, Buemi (Race 1 and driver points leader) had a clear run into the first corner, and as was the case in the season-opener in Beijing, the Renault e.dams driver pulled away to a comfortable lead.

Image Credit: FIA Formula E

But this would be no back-to-back win for the Swiss native as his car ground to a halt as the race neared its mid-way point.

With Buemi’s car stopped on track, the Renault e.dams team opted to pit team-mate Nicolas Prost at this point. He had also been suffering issues with his car cutting out. The early pitstop ensured the Frenchman took over the lead after all of the mid-race car swaps took place, but as he had to make his energy last for longer than his rivals, combined with his car troubles he was unable to prevent the trailing pack from passing him ... modulation.

Lucas di Grassi - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport. Image Credit: FIA Formula E

Lucas di Grassi - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport took over in second following the pitstop phase, but only because Dragon Racing’s Loic Duval suffered an over-long stop. The Frenchman had briefly held the lead following Buemi’s troubles, but was now behind, not only to di Grassi, but the impressive Team Aguri car of Antonio Felix da Costa as well.

As Prost struggled with his car cutting out, di Grassi made his move for the lead. Behind these two, Da Costa and Duval entertainingly disputed third. Eventually both found a way by the Renault e.dams and Duval started to close in on the leader. But when a damper broke in the suspension of his car, his great run was ended and di Grassi was left without being pressured at the front and eventually collected the win.

Image Credit: FIA Formula E

“You can see how difficult the conditions were with the amount of sand I have in my eye, the amount of sand I have in the car,” he admitted. “It was an extremely tough race, mainly determined by battery temperature. But gladly we managed it better than the others, we did a fantastic job. The team in the background did a perfect job with the strategy and we managed to claim the victory and I’m now the leader in the championship.”

After a mistake in qualifying and a brush with the wall, DS Virgin’s Sam Bird started back in 14th.

But the 2014 Putrajaya ePrix winner has an affinity with the circuit, and while those around him were having troubles he was able to concentrate on driving his own race, staying out of trouble and when Jerome D’Ambrosio crashed out of second place for Dragon on the final lap, the Brit inherited the runner-up spot.

“I’m absolutely chuffed,” he beamed. “This one is for the boys at Virgin – I don’t think that too many people know that before the race we were down in the dumps because I didn’t think we were going to finish the race because we only had one battery in the car. The Virgin boys fixed the car so quick, this is for the Virgin boys! If people don’t say Formula E is exciting, then I think they didn’t watch that race. It was carnage, but cool carnage. It’s a series that people should watch because that’s fantastic racing, it’s unreal.”

Da Costa’s great run for Aguri ended when his car cut-out too, which handed a podium finish to Andretti’s Robin Frijns. However, the Dutchman was exceptionally fortunate to finish the race after clouting the wall as he made a passing move on the hobbled Duval.

Even though the suspension and steering were deranged, he somehow kept the car pointing in the right direction and crawled over the line for his first Formula E podium.

P1 Lucas di Grassi - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport | P2 Sam BIRD - DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team | P3 Robin FRIJNS     Andretti Formula E Race Team spray podium celebration champagne around to all. Image Credit: FIA Formula E

“I felt like I was a rally driver!” he exclaimed. “Duval had a problem in front of me and he also had a suspension failure. I overtook him before Turn 9 and I went in just a bit too quick and there was a lot of rubber and dirt. I was on it and I saw the wall coming and I said, ‘this is it, it’s over’.

It was quite a big hit and the rear was completely bent, the steering was totally not straight any more. Right corners were fine but in left corners I really had to take it easy. But I’m surprised how strong the Formula E car is.”

Image Credit: FIA Formula E

Despite his problems at the start Sarrazin came through to fourth, while Bruno Senna took fifth for Mahindra Racing. Da Costa managed to get his car restarted and came home sixth, while Daniel Abt finished seventh for Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport.

Nelson Piquet Jr was again a FanBoost winner and kept out of trouble to score his first points of the season for NEXTEV TCR in eighth, while Nick Heidfeld finished ninth despite having been tipped into a spin at the first corner following a three-way tussle with Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Virgin Racing) who was eliminated on the spot and Jacques Villeneuve (Venturi).Prost picked up the final point in 10th, while Buemi had the consolation of securing the Visa Fastest Lap and two bonus points.

After one of the most eventful races in Formula E’s short history, the teams and drivers now have a well-earned break before the series resumes in the amazing beachside setting of Punta del Este on December 19.

FIA Formula E Podium - P1 Lucas di Grassi - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport | P2 Sam BIRD - DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team | P3 Robin FRIJNS     Andretti Formula E Race Team. Image Credit: FIA Formula E

This excerpted and edited from APEX RACING PR -

APEX RACING PR - November 11, 2015

The US has a growing appetite for electric racing according to the latest TV viewing figures, which demonstrate that Formula E has greater popularity in North America than F1.

The Nielson ratings demonstrated that the Putrajaya ePrix coverage on FOX scored a 1.2 overnight rating for the replay on Sunday afternoon – a higher rating than any F1 race achieved this year in the US, with the Monaco Grand Prix drawing a peak rating of 1.1 as the most watched race.

The live broadcast of the Putrajaya race on FOX drew 60,000 viewers, despite its early morning billing. It is believed that the Sunday replay of the race received a boost in viewers owing to the NFL game that preceded it.

In contrast, NASCAR drew a 2.6 overnight rating, its highest of the year to date, while the much-billed MotoGP title showdown generated an average of 130,000 viewers on Sunday morning on Fox Sports 1, according to

These are impressive figures for Formula E as the burgeoning series is just two races into its second season, particularly when competing with established motorsport categories, as well as one of the most intense and promoted title showdowns in recent MotoGP history.

Formula E returns to the US for the Long Beach ePrix on 2nd April 2016.

For more information on Formula E visit

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: FIA, Formula E,  Putrajaya ePrix, YCM, Lucas DI GRASSI, Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport, Sam BIRD, DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team, Robin FRIJNS, Andretti Formula E Race Team, S├ębastien BUEMI, Renault e.Dams, The EDJE