Drive Wire: November 20, 2015

Fiat's turbocharged Miata, a new CX-9, Victory motorcycles, animated photos, and a slacklining master.

Hey guys, it’s Christina Thompson and this is Drive Wire for Friday, November 20.

Remember when Mazda was going to work with Alfa Romeo to make a new Spider? Didn’t happen. But now an Alfa subsidiary, Fiat, has put its own look to the Miata. Meet the new Fiat 124. Under the hood, the Miata’s 2 liter has been replaced by the 1.4 liter turbo engine from the growling, peppy Abarth 500. The 124 only makes five horsepower more than the Miata, but it has 184 foot-pounds of torque -- a significant bump over Mazda’s power plant. Fiat wisely kept the perfectly balanced Mazda suspension and chassis. As for the look, it does recall a classic ‘70’s Fiat convertible, and we like it. But opinions are split on whether the “Fiata” is better-looking than its Mazda sibling. Either way, we’re excited to see a how the 124 stacks up against the Miata on the road and the race track.

More news out of the L.A. Auto Show -- Mazda has unveiled its first overhaul of its CX-9 in almost ten years. Which, as you know, might as well be nine centuries in car time. The redesigned CX features an all-new 2.5 liter four cylinder, making a decent 250 horsepower and a more-than-decent 310 foot pounds of torque. That all runs through a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. And the new lines of the CX-9? Well, those are sure to turn some heads in the suburbs.

If you wish you owned the bat-cycle, Victory Motorcycles may have your ride. The Ignition Concept, which debuted at the EICMA Motorcycle Show this week, takes its engine from Victory’s Project 156, which the company raced up Pike’s Peak. They added headers and top-flight suspension parts and made the whole thing half cruiser, half scrambler, half racer.  Okay, that’s three halves, but this is a lot of bike. It’s ready to fight crime … or at least boredom.

On the crowd-funded gear front, apparently pictures can come to life. At least that’s the idea behind Lifeprint’s augmented-reality photo app. Photos taken -- and even printed -- with Lifeprint technology become animated. The process is crazy technical … and positively awesome. Check out the team’s Kickstarter, although we’re pretty sure they can also just change anything they want into gold.

Today’s ridiculous video comes from slack-line tightrope artist Theo Sanson, who walks half a kilometer between towering rock formations in the Utah desert. With no fear of heights and an incredible sense of balance, Theo elevates the college hobby of slackline to a whole new level. Sure beats frisbee golf, huh?

That’s it for today’s edition of Drive Wire. For more, be sure to come back to thedrive.com, and follow us @thedrive on all your favorite social media platforms.