2017 Fiat 124 Spider Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, November 18, 2015
- Based on Mazda MX-5 Miata
- Styling done in Turin, Italy
- Turbocharged, 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
- Manual or automatic transmission
- Classica and Lusso trim levels
- Six different paint colors
- On sale in summer 2016
Fiat dealerships have been clamoring for something besides a tiny city car and a Pope-mobile to sell, and they’re finally getting it. The Fiat 500X crossover SUV is already on sale, and next summer this new 2-seat roadster arrives in the form of the re-born 124 Spider.
Because it is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, this new Fiat has already been nicknamed the “Fiata.” No surprise there. What is surprising is the degree to which the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is different from the Mazda with which it shares its platform and interior.
Styled in Turin, Italy, the new Fiat 124 Spider shares none of its exterior design with the MX-5 Miata, save perhaps for the side mirrors and windshield. The result is a Fiata that is longer and wider than a Miata.
Classic elements of the original 124 Spider are plainly evident in the design, especially the twin “power domes” stamped into the hood, the hexagonal grille shape and pattern, and the shapes of the headlights and taillights.
The first 124 examples of the 124 Spider will be a special edition called the Prima Edizione Lusso, painted a unique blue color with saddle leather. After that, buyers will choose between Classica and Lusso trim levels that align with the MX-5 Miata’s Sport and Grand Touring trims. Fiat will offer the car in six colors: Black, white, red, gray, dark gray, and bronze.
If you’ve seen the inside of a Miata, then you’ve seen the inside of a Fiat 124 Spider. There are subtle differences beyond the emblem affixed to the steering wheel. For example, the Fiat’s upper door panel trim is black rather than body color, instrumentation is revised, and the Lusso model’s leather seats have different stitching.
If the 124 Spider’s two trim levels align with the MX-5 Miata Sport and Grand Touring, then it stands to reason that upgrading to the Lusso trim level supplies larger aluminum wheels, leather seats, automatic climate control, heated front seats, premium audio system, infotainment system with navigation, and several driver-assistance technologies.
Under the Hood
Fiat swaps out the Mazda’s 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in favor of the same turbocharged, 1.4-liter 4-cylinder that the company installs in the 500 Abarth. It makes 160 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 2,500 rpm.
Power is fed to the 124 Spider’s rear wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic transmission.
According to Fiat, the new 124 Spider is available with a reversing camera, blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive headlights that can help the driver to see around dark corners.
In addition to offering the same Bose premium audio system that’s available in the Miata, complete with headrest speakers, the 124 Spider will use the same Mazda Connect infotainment technology, branded as Fiat Connect.
The good news is that Mazda Connect is simple to use without more than a glance away from the road. The bad news is that the controller and buttons for it are awkwardly placed, and the touch screen is not touch-sensitive when the car is underway.