COMPARATIVE TEXT SEAT 127: JAVIER MARTÍN / PHOTOS: THE ESCUDERÍA
It has always been said that the renault 5 It was a revolutionary car that marked a before and after in the market. And it is true in many respects, well multitude of solutions and proposals are still used today; they have evolved and adapted, but nobody disputes the origin. Things like the polyester bumpers, the color palette, the range offered ...
Number 5 is special for the utility segment and for Renault itself, which is recovering it to strengthen its electric future. But nevertheless, there are innovations that are not attributable to the R5, but to the FIAT 127. A car that hit the market a year before the French “becoming” SEAT in 1972, and it not only became SEAT, since as with the 124 it was manufactured in several countries under license, such as Poland (Polski -FIAT 127) or Brazil (FIAT 147).
When the 127 was put into service, the Italians wanted to fill the gap in the FIAT 850. As expected, the change was totally drastic. It was so radically opposite and modern that it was a hit from the get-go. To understand the importance of the 127, even if it is a FIAT and few want to know anything about it because of the brand, it is enough to compare it with the "eight and a half": Transverse front engine and front-wheel drive, a design very close to what is understood today by utility. Remarkably spacious cabin for its size and road holding that even today attracts attention.
There are things in which the French model won, such as offering an unabashedly youthful range. or in the inclusion of "plastic" bumpers. A solution that FIAT did not use until the arrival of the third generation of the 127, the Fura in Spain (in the B segment, of course). Details that gave it a more modern air but that did not compensate for the difference in dynamic behavior or use of the cabin.
Constant evolution: From Seat 127 to infinity
With today's cars, achieving such a remarkable leap in evolution is almost impossible. The only thing that could break all the molds is that electrical technology is equated, in everything, with internal combustion and for that there is still work ahead. And by the time it is achieved, the impact will not be so great because we will have already become accustomed to electrification and we will have seen it evolve.
In fact, people do not even notice that evolution suffered by cars. It has gone from having cars with a CD player, which in the end always ends up changing, to cars that don't even have buttons and everything is managed from one screen. Even from the mobile phone, which has also undergone a brutal evolution. But it is curious to see how people do notice and appreciate the change in telephony while the same does not happen with cars. What's more, the normal thing is that everyone complains about the prices without looking at anything else, but they pay more than 1.000 euros for the latest "smartphone" and justify it.
Those high prices, because they are without a doubt, are not put on a whim. And no matter what some people say or think, brands calculate and price very carefully. A wrong rate can mean huge losses, both by excess and by default. A high price is just as bad as a low price. You have to pay expenses and earn money: If the price is high, not enough is sold; if it is low, you do not earn what you need.
To understand the change suffered by the car, guilty of higher prices than ever, it is necessary to go through a traumatic comparison like the one we experienced very recently. We have been able to put a SEAT Ibiza FR 1.5 EVO DSG-7 and a second generation SEAT 127 face to face. And we have been seized by a remarkable shock. It is an experience that all users should live in order to appreciate what it feels like and to understand how it was circulated and how it was traveled decades ago. It has been a much more remarkable difference than when we could compare the Peugeot 405 Mi16 with the Peugeot 508 GT Hybrid.
In short, we were able to face a car from 1977 and another from 2021. Well, actually, the Ibiza that SEAT itself lent us is “pre-restyling”. The brand has presented a redesign and update of its utility, which will be put into circulation soon. Although it does not affect the comparison with its predecessor, which will soon be 50 years old: The SEAT 127 will have its birthday in 2022.
A traumatic change
I went to the appointment with the "great-great-grandfather" on a Friday morning (if we are 100% faithful to the genealogy, the grandfather of the Ibiza is the Fura, the third generation of the 127). We were comfortably seated, listening to music, not paying the slightest attention to the gearbox (it was a dual-clutch automatic).With the air conditioning refreshing the cabin of a last generation Ibiza. Nothing made us foreshadow how much we would miss this element.
Once with him "twenty seven" front, we were surprised that it had a similar color to the Ibiza and ... was this car really that small? The mind totally deceives us and we did not remember it so tiny. We hadn't even started comparing cars and evolution was already hitting us. The design, a thing of fashions and times, is radically different. Something, on the other hand, absolutely normal and, to be honest, with a somewhat secondary importance. But nevertheless, the sound of the engine and even the smell of the cabin take you to another era. “Our” SEAT 127 smelled like my grandfather's 1430 and the sound, without filters (there is no catalyst or particulate filter, which they had not even imagined) took me back to childhood.
There are some things to comment on, such as the state of the SEAT 127. It has not been fully restored and has some little things as a result of its age and maintenance. It has also been used for classic rallies and mounts the mounts for the measuring instruments. The seat upholstery is not the original, although it is in an exceptional condition. For the rest, all of origin.
With this cleared up, we continue. The simple act of sitting at 127 after getting off the Ibiza is, as we said, a shock. The Ibiza seats are spectacular, both by design and upholstery. Evolution is so great that it is difficult to understand how they could travel before in those seats. The exact same thing happens with the driving position, the change is so great that it requires some time to adapt if you have not driven such a car before.
One of the best in dynamic behavior: Seat 127
All this that has been mentioned, the position at the wheel, the seats, even the design of the elements that shape the cabin and its equipment, are things whose development entails a huge amount of money. It also contributes to the increasing availability of better equipment, often standard. Comparatively, the interior of the "twenty-seven" seems to be empty and that of the Ibiza crowded with things.
If we go into the security section, it is even scary. There is no shock absorbing structure, no servo on the brakes, no power steering, and much less ABS or belt pretensioners. What's more, fastening your seat belt does not give you any sense of security. The impression is of using an authentic "handrail". Seen from our current perspective, it makes "trips to the beach" real feats.. What would they be like in a SEAT 600?
Thus, It is not surprising that once the SEAT 127 is underway it surprises for the better.. It is true that the direction is not as precise as it is now. That the absence of assistance makes stationary maneuvers a requirement and that, in addition, you have to move in the seat to work the entire steering wheel rim. It is also true that the pedals are very close together and that the gearbox has overwhelming travels (and a feel that makes you doubt if the gear has been constantly engaged). But how well this endearing old man moves!
When the 127 began to parade through the European roads it was considered one of the best of its time for performance and dynamic behavior. Section that today, 50 years later, allows you to move with great ease in current traffic. Except that my head was brushing the ceiling and the position of the steering wheel, you end up driving at the same pace as the rest of the cars almost without realizing it.
There are things that require a "change of chip". No wonder the SEAT 127 is around 50 years old. Thus, for example, if you brake with the same references as a modern car, you will find yourself holding your breath, pressing the pedal with all your might and waiting for a huge "Crash" sometime. You have to anticipate, brake soon and press, although less than expected. If you also help yourself with change, much better.
The curves are equally delicate coming from a modern car, if you want to negotiate them at a good pace.. And it is not a problem of stability: the limit is remarkably high for what I expected at first. The problem comes from the strange shapes of the seat (they don't hold anything and the backrest is very, let's say, weird, you sink into it), the absence of a decent left foot rest and an awful, more typical steering wheel position. of a truck. Or put another way, you find yourself taking a curve at a seemingly demonic speed, with your body leaning towards the inside of the curve, working the steering wheel as best you can and thinking "We are going to kill ourselves!" In short, it is exciting.
Obviously, once you have changed the chip, things are not so dramatic. In fact, once you adapt to the peculiarities of the SEAT 127 you become one of the traffic. It takes more work than with the Ibiza, you have a hell of a lot of heat (what a great invention, air conditioning!). And you are not as comfortable, but you are not a hindrance to others, you have the same rhythm as the rest. The best of all is the torrent of sensations that come from all sides you can even have fun on curvy sections. The car does not lose its composure, it holds up much longer than meets the eye and you know at all times where the limits are. You are not isolated from the outside as in a current car, and that is appreciated.
Putting yourself at the controls of the Ibiza after getting off the 127 undoubtedly allows you to experience first-hand the evolution suffered by the car. There are fans who, no matter what else, will call any modern car a washing machine. But we are simply facing a very personal perception and opinion. It is true that the sensations in a modern car are very filtered, but the evolution that exists between the Ibiza and the 127 is, simply, brutal. Design, materials, ergonomics, equipment, technology, engines ...
With the SEAT Ibiza, which has reached the size of compacts in the early 90s (it measures 4.059 millimeters in length while, for example, a Golf III measured 4.020, and this one is also narrower), everything is easier and faster. The engine of the unit provided by SEAT, with 150 hp, only needs one centimeter of accelerator to leave the 127 behind in any circumstance. And cornering can be so fast that it makes your hair stand on end. In addition, it does it with a simplicity that is even more scary, because you do not realize the real speed at which you are driving.
The SEAT Ibiza FR 1.5 EVO DSG-7 is a great car, let no one doubt it. Yes, okay, it is a "washing machine", but give me this washing machine for the day to day and even to scatter on the mountain road. And the 127 to really enjoy walking and driving from time to time and with no other objective than to drive, as was done in the past (and out of sheer vice).
May this adventure serve as tribute for 50 years of the FIAT 127. We have another celebration prepared for "our" 127 ... 😉
Epilogue: The impressions of its owner (Antonio Silva) ...
«The first time I saw it, it looked like an old and disgusting car ... I remember that it had natural grass in the air inlet bucket of the hood. He had grown up there from the time he had been standing. But it was the early nineties, and the car was a "gift" (quite poisoned): "Son, just pay the numbers that are due and it's yours." Pay more than 35.000 pesetas of numbers, about 200 current euros; 4 or 5 taxes were due.
The car started as soon as I got the battery, yes. At first he was taking me to college, or I was going to find my girlfriend at the time. Little by little it was demonstrating its potential as a mechanics learning machine rather than as a means of transport. Brakes, plate setting, spark plug change, oils. One day after two years the clutch went out; With the battered economy of a university student and with the specific help of my father, I managed to fix that as well.
Time passed and that disgusting car was beginning to be acceptable. In reality, the cocoon used more oil than gasoline, with one liter every 300 kilometers or so. I decided that it was time to buy a BMW, but since my finances weren't enough for that and I had a family in mechanics, we decided to build the engine for it. And so this acceptable car became an acceptable car that also walked a lot and spent little. It still looked certainly disgusting, washed out, faded when it rained (I swear), and the partially broken seats tore my friends' pants. But it worked and it was faithful.
That gruesome car saw a lot of things, a lot. Normal for a 20-24 year old guy, if I spoke I would blush today. I took Cáceres to the Mill, and then to Pardo. Finally the years passed and my personal situation improved a lot, and with it the very important economy. So at the end of the 90s he stopped serving me, after almost 7 years without ever letting me down and having given me 1001 adventures.
The 127 was parked out in the open for a few years in a private area. One fine day I decided to leave it as it deserved: I cleaned up the rottenness that it was beginning to have, I changed the shock absorbers, cleaned the tank, I painted it in a professional way. It was reupholstered, the cushioned seats were changed and I kept it in a warehouse. Since then there will be no more than 5.000 km, and that because I ran a regularity rally, becoming Clarita champion of its category.
I don't use it at all at the moment; Years ago I put it up for sale because of the hobby (and love) I had for it. And having it sold I cracked and pardoned him. I do not know why, the fact is that it is a disgusting car ...
Filthy hilarious !! "