There was a danger that Fiat were becoming too dependent on cute city cars and cheap hatchbacks but Fiat finally has a sports car back in their range that’s just not sensible at all. The Fiat 124 Spider is a classic two seat roadster with a folding fabric roof, and is inspired by the 1966 original of the same name.
If the new Fiat Tipo is the practical, sensible part of the Fiat brand, then the 124 Spider is the emotional part. It’s the type of car that will make you part with your cash not for sensible things like value for money or boot space, but because it’s a sexy, low slung roadster that will make you a younger and better-looking version of yourself just by association.
The new 124 Spider shares much of its underpinnings with the Mazda MX5 but all the body panels are different. These two cars look uniquely different, but the Fiat is softer and more retro next to the Mazda’s sharp lines and angled approach. Inside the cabin wraps around you and the quality is good. These two roadsters are made in the same factory in Japan and this is the best quality Fiat I’ve seen. Infotainment is provided via a 7” screen that’s controlled by a rotary dial on the centre console.
Entry Classica models start from €32,395 and include air con, cruise control, and keyless engine start. Lusso models start at €35,195 and add satellite navigation, rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated leather seat, automatic climate control, and front fog lamps. Lusso Plus is priced from €36,695 and adds adaptive LED headlamps, auto lights and wipers and a nine-speaker BOSE sound system.
The cabin has a ‘tight’ feel, especially with the roof up, and there is limited storage. There’s no glovebox but there is some small locked storage behind the two seats and the boot has a capacity of a meagre 140 litres.
The Fiat 124 Spider is all about the driving. You’re positioned low in the car and your legs are stretched out in front of you. You can hear the Fiat’s 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine working every time you change gear or accelerate, so it’s a very raw driving experience and it is quite noisy. You can feel the road underneath you, but the 124 Spider is comfortable for every day use.
The 1.4-litre engine produces 140hp, 240Nm of torque and 0-100kmh is achieved in 7.5 seconds with a top speed of 215kmh. I found the engine to be responsive and the turbo gives you a lovely thrust of power every time you change gear and accelerate.
The 124 Spider has classic rear wheel drive handling so it floats around corners with real grace and elegance. Surprisingly there’s not that much feedback coming from the steering, but because it’s quite a heavy set up you still feel connected to the road.
There are few things in life that hold as much promise as a red, two door, low slung, Italian sports car. The Fiat 124 Spider is not practical, but it’s fast, it’s fun and it’s raw, and that’s the innate charm of this car.
Model tested: Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Plus
Price: €36,695 (Range starts at €32,395)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 215km/h
CO2 emissions: 148g/km
Motor tax: €390 per year