The first Fiat 124 Spider arrived in the U.S. back in 1968. It was an affordable and attractive sports car with plenty of Italian flair and people loved the little roadster. Production ended in 1985, but now the 124 Spider is back to win the hearts of a whole new generation of driving enthusiasts.
Roadsters appeal to a narrow segment of drivers. They’re not family cars and they’re not cars for people who plan to do off-roading on the weekends. They’re cars for people who like to drive and put the journey right up there with the destination.
The 124 Spider is an innately appealing car with curves in all the right places and an aggressive front grille. This isn’t an MX-5 Miata, although it’s based heavily on that car. The Miata is cute. The 124 Spider is its sexy cousin.
Power comes from a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo four-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. This is another key difference from the Miata, which has a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Although the turbo gives the 124 Spider an extra boost, you will notice the occasional turbo lag that detracts from the drive experience.
Turbo lag aside, the 124 Spider is an absolute joy to drive. Handling is crisp and smooth and the 6-speed manual has a short throw that requires little effort to snap between gears. A roadster should be easy on the eyes and fun to drive. The 124 Spider delivers on both fronts.
The base Classica has a starting price of $24,995 and includes AM/FM with 4 speakers and a 3-inch display. There’s a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power windows, air conditioning, and manually adjustable seats. The Lusso ups the luxury at $27,495 and the top Abarth adds performance enhancements at $28,195.
Keep in mind, this car has no back seat so the front seats don’t move much. Those pushing six-feet are going to find it cramped with their knees hitting the center console, doors, and even the dash. This is not a car for tall people. The rest of the world, however, won’t be bothered by the car’s petite dimensions. You’re buying a roadster not a seven-passenger SUV.
The soft-top roof opens with a single latch and is so quick and easy it can be done with one hand in just a few seconds. Here’s where shorter folks face a challenge, since clicking it into place behind your head is tricky with short arms.
Closing it is just as easy with a release between the seats that pops the roof up enough to easily grab. Pull it up, click the latch, and the roof is closed in less time than you’ll spend waiting at a red light. Once closed, you’ll find it less noisy than a Miata thanks to roof materials specifically chosen to create a quieter cabin.
The Fiat 124 Spider brings an iconic Italian roadster back to the U.S. after a too-long absence. It is not all things to all people, but that was never its mission.
Instead, the 124 Spider offers a stylish, fun, and affordable roadster for people who like to drive and want to enjoy every minute of the summer sun.