It’s been quite a long wait, but the open-top two seater that revives the 124 Spider nameplate is here, ahead of its official debut later this day at the LA Auto Show opening.
Fiat has made no secret that its first roadster in a very long time (remember the Barchetta?) is based on the Mazda MX-5/Miata platform. Yet it claims that it is no mere badge-engineering and, despite common parts, offers a purely Italian driving experience.
“There’s no better way to celebrate 50 years of the Fiat 124 Spider than to bring back this iconic roadster, pairing its Italian styling of the past with all of the modern performance and technology of today”, said Olivier François, Head of FIAT Brand, FCA – Global. “The 124 Spider expands the FIAT family, bringing to market yet another head-turning, fun-to-drive vehicle for our customers.”
Let’s start with the raison d’être of all roadsters: looks. Yes, its proportions are practically the same as its Japanese twin, something that was expected anyway. The bodywork has been completely redesigned and there are ovoid headlamps, a new upper and lower grille, a pronounced “shoulder” at the rear which extends at the door and unique rear lights that bring to mind other current group models.
Unlike the sheetmetal, the interior is lifted unchanged from the MX-5, from the dashboard design to the instrument cluster and the climate controls. There’s a Fiat logo on the steering wheel and, well, that’s about it. Mind you, that’s no bad thing since the Miata is a cosseting little roadster with a perfect driving position –it’s just that maybe a bit of Italian flair wouldn’t go amiss…
The biggest difference between the two is hidden under the bonnet. The 1.5- and 1.8-liter naturally aspirated Mazda engines have been replaced by a 500 Abarth-sourced turbocharged 1.4-liter with 160 HP and 184 lb/ft (241 Nm) that drives the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or auto transmission.
Fiat’s little roadster will be available in two trim levels, Classica and Lusso. Customers can pick one of six exterior paint colors, including Rosso Passione (Red Clear Coat), Bianco Gelato (White Clear Coat), Nero Cinema (Jet Black Metallic), Grigio Argento (Gray Metallic), Grigio Moda (Dark Gray Metallic) and Bronzo Magnetico (Bronze Metallic), plus a tri-coat Bianco Perla (Crystal White Pearl) that’s exclusive to the Lusso variant.
To mark the launch of the 124 Spider in LA, the first 124 examples will be offered in the Prima Edizione Lusso limited edition with a blue Azzuro Italia paint, Saddle leather seats and a commemorative plaque.
Fiat announced that its new, rear-wheel drive roadster will hit the US market in summer 2016.