The return of a classic

FIAT based its return to the U.S. on the 500 hatchback, a retro model that pays homage to one of the Italian brand’s classics. But the 500 isn’t the only memorable car from FIAT’s past. In 1966, FIAT introduced a new sports car based on its 124 sedan called the 124 Spider. It became an iconic example of the small European sports car, and now it’s back. The 2017 124 Spider combines the look of the original with modern mechanicals and technology for a memorable driving experience.

Performance

The 2017 FIAT 124 Spider marries the well-designed chassis of the Mazda MX-5 Miata with a sprightly FIAT-sourced powertrain. Just like the original 124 Spider, the reborn model is nimble and generally fun to drive.

Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir® four-cylinder engine shared with other FIAT models. In the 124 Spider, it produces 160 horsepower (165 hp in the Abarth version) and 184 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. This is the first application of the 1.4-liter engine in a rear-wheel drive vehicle, and mating it to the Mazda-derived chassis must have been interesting for FIAT engineers.

One of the advantages of a small sports car is decent fuel economy—in this case, a class-leading 35 highway mpg with the manual transmission and an unsurpassed 36 highway mpg with the automatic.*

The 124 Spider also benefits from a lightweight chassis with 54/46 percent front/rear weight distribution. The electric power steering and suspension were tuned for maximum responsiveness. The hotter Abarth version adds Bilstein® sport suspension, a limited-slip differential, and sport exhaust.

Features

The 2017 FIAT 124 Spider is a two-door, two-seat convertible available in three trim levels and priced starting at $24,995.** That makes the 124 Spider the cheapest turbocharged convertible sold in the U.S., according to FIAT.

The base 124 Spider model is the Classica, and it comes with a generous array of standard equipment. Some of those standard features include a dual-tipped exhaust, 16-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights and LED taillights, and premium cloth seats.

The Lusso (“Luxury”) model builds on the Classica with additional standard features like 17-inch wheels, heated premium leather seats, and leatherette trim.

The 124 Spider Abarth is the performance model of the 124 range, and so it sits somewhat outside the rest of the lineup. It gets a 165-hp version of the 1.4-liter MultiAir® engine, Bilstein® sport suspension, limited-slip differential, front strut tower bar, sport mode, unique styling features, and sport exhaust. Optional features include Recaro® seats, Brembo® brakes, and a hand-painted hood stripe.

In addition to the standard equipment, optional features available on various models include a Bose® nine-speaker sound system, FIAT® Connect infotainment system with 7.0-inch touchscreen, and Keyless Enter n’ Go™.

Design

The 2017 FIAT 124 Spider pays homage to the original 124 Spider, a now-classic sports car that was introduced nearly 50 years ago. Nowhere is that connection more apparent than the exterior styling. It’s not only delightfully retro but also serves as a nice counterpoint to the 124’s Mazda Miata platform mate.

Features like the recessed headlights, hexagonal upper grille pattern, horizontal taillights, and dual “power domes” in the hood are pulled straight from the original 124 Spider. They blend well with the new model’s body, which is appreciably larger than the original. And just like the original Spider, the convertible soft top is simple and easy to operate.

The interior was designed with a focus on ergonomics. The steering wheel, pedals, and shifter were placed to maximize ease of operation, which is exactly what you want in a sports car. FIAT also tried to impart a more upscale feel through the extensive use of soft-touch materials. A touchscreen infotainment system and Bluetooth® are also available for buyers wanting more tech.

Safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2017 FIAT 124 Spider includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls, and a full array of airbags. Optional features include adaptive headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, and a rearview camera.

Verdict

The 2017 FIAT 124 Spider marks the return of a classic nameplate almost 50 years after it was first introduced. It sports all the qualities and features that will reignite your love for the open road.

Be sure to contact us online or visit Stateline Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat at 800 Gold Hill Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29708 to experience the all-new FIAT 124 Spider. 

*Based on the FCA Standard 2-Seat Roadster Segment. EPA estimated. Actual mileage may vary.

**MSRP excludes destination, taxes, title and registration fees. Starting at price refers to the base model, optional equipment not included. A more expensive model may be shown. Pricing and offers may change at any time without notification. To get full pricing details, see your dealer.

Image Credit: FIAT