The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Review: The Fiat 124 Spider is a small two-passenger roadster, and a beloved classic. What better way to spice up the utilitarian Fiat lineup in America than to bring back this fun machine. But developing a low-volume convertible from scratch would be too expensive. So, conversations were made with the folks at Mazda, who have since 1990, sold more than a million MX-5 Miatas. For years, Mazda has provided specialty production for other manufacturers to sweeten its bottom line, so it’s a win-win production situation.
Creating a new 124 Spider had to be much more than slapping a new grille, taillamps and badges on a Miata, and calling it Italian. So, the Fiat’s designers at Centro Stile in Turin, Italy crafted a sensuous all-new body. From headlamps and grille to the doors, fenders, trunk and taillamps, the 124 Spider, reborn nearly 50 years after the original one debuted, looks just right.
If the Japanese engineering was hidden under the Italian flavored bodywork, that could be OK, but the 124 Spider has an Italian heart, too. The engine in all models is Fiat’s 1.4-liter I4 Multi-Air Turbo, sending 164 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque out to the rear wheels. The 2,476-pound car maintains the MX-5 Miata’s road poise while singing its own unique song. It is not the sweetest ever heard, but there’s enough pep to make the wonderfully balanced, fine handling platform dance when you take it onto interesting roads.
Sports cars from the middle of the 20th century had simple tops, and this one is both traditional and modern, using the Miata quick-dropping soft lid. Just unhook it from the premium silver header and fling it back. Then, press down to snap it into place. It’s just as easy to just reach back and pull it back up when your ride is over, too.
Driving in the commute grind is surprisingly tolerable in this little car, which has had attention lavished on it to keep it from feeling ordinary. Handing five bucks to the bridge toll-taker is comical, however. The interior feels much like a Miata, with practically no storage for anything, even the trunk is less than 5 cubic feet! But there’s plenty of sweet-smelling leather and premium soft-touch trim throughout. Its personality is different from its sibling under the skin.
Of course, when the weather is nice and you drop the top, everything changes and the sun shines in. Suddenly, the world is fresh and interesting, especially if you’re not behind a giant Diesel truck on the freeway. Little roadsters like this can feel like an extension of you when you’re happily ensconced behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel with its built-in audio controls. Knowing you’ll have lots of ambient noise, the speakers are built right into the headrests.
One of the pleasures of driving a sports car is shifting your own gears, and that’s entirely possible in the 124 Spider. It’s also possible to order up an automatic, and my tester had one for $1,350, much to my initial chagrin. Miata shifting is some of the best there is, and I’d anticipated enjoying that in my test week. But the Japanese six-speed AISIN automatic was perfectly acceptable, although the sound of the engine would have been more sonorous if it had risen happily with each gear change.
The little engine gets reasonable EPA numbers, 25 City, 36 Highway, and 29 Combined. I averaged 28.3 mpg, which is pretty good for a car you’re likely to push a bit. EPA Green Scores are 6 for Smog and 7 for Greenhouse Gas. You’ll spend $250 more for fuel over 5 years than the average new vehicle, so it’s right in the middle.
The graphic pie would show that the 124 Spider (jokingly called the “Fiata” by some characters) is 75 percent Japanese and 25 percent Italian, and is built alongside the Miata in Hiroshima, Japan. There are no U.S. or Canadian parts.
Choose from the Classica to start or upgrade to the Lusso, like my Bronzo Magnetico Titanium test car. The Lusso adds leather seats and moves from 16- to 17-inch alloy wheels. The top level is the Abarth, with a front and rear Bilstein sport suspension, mechanical limited-slip differential, front strut tower bar, Sport Mode selector, and quad chrome-tipped exhausts tuned to turn the Multi-Air into a soaring tenor. It receives numerous styling enhancements, too.
My tester, with the $1,495 Safety and Comfort Collection and automatic gearbox, came to $31,335 on the MSRP sticker. It’s exciting to see this iconic model in Fiat showrooms again. Typical of today’s auto industry, it’s a shared effort, but you couldn’t have asked for a better secret sibling. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The Bottom Line: The new Fiat 124 Spider is a modern rendition of the ordinal 124 Spider from 40 years ago. Updated to 2017 mechanicals, with a new body, engine and dive train, it makes the new 124 a pleasure to drive and own, and it handles like a sports car should. Today the 124 Spider comes in 3 trim levels, two transmission choices, and lots of safety, comfort and suspension options to make it the car you really want. Prices start at $25,990 for the Classica, $28,490 for the Lusso, and $29,190 for the Abarth. And maybe, just for those reasons alone, you should “Drive one, Buy one, Today ©”.
This Bottom Line Review is provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: “You Are What You Drive ©”
Column Name: Newer and Better in Everyway
Topic: The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider
Word Count: 1,018
Photo Caption: The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider
Photo Credits: Fiat Internet Media
Series #: 2017 - 27
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