A turbocharged alternative to the Mazda Miata

The Fiat 124 Spider first hit the road in 1966 as a 2+2 roadster based on the 124 Coupe’s platform. The model lived a long life, as it ran all the way through 1982. When Mazda announced that it was creating an all-new 2016 MX-5 Miata, it also let out that it co-developed the roadster’s chassis with FCA. Initially, FCA was going to use the chassis to underpin an Alfa Romeo roadster, but it later chose to use it under a Fiat model. Then, in March 2015 at the Geneva Auto Show, FCA announced that the new Fiat convertible would resurrect the 124 Spider nameplate starting in 2016. The roadster was finally unveiled at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Although it shares underpinnings with the new MX-5 Miata, the 124 Spider received an exterior styling of its own, sharing not even a single body panel with its Japanese sibling. The engine is also different, with Fiat opting to use one of its very own turbocharged four-cylinder unit.

If you’re among those who were whining about Mazda not offering a turbo Miata, then the 124 Spider might be what you’re looking for.

While they feature different exteriors and engines, the roadsters share an almost identical interior. That’s not to say Fiat was lazy and didn’t want to give the 124’s cabin an identity of its own. It actually has to do with reducing costs and the fact that the MX-5’s interior is very spacious and comfortable for a small car.

Updated 05/16/2016: Fiat dropped two new commercials for its latest 124 Spider called "Free Like a Bird" and "No Blue Pill Needed." The first of them is the first commercial ever filmed by an eagle, while the second one leverages the strength of the original award-wining ’Blue Pill,’ which has over 30 million views on YouTube. Hit "play" to watch them.

Continue reading to find out more about the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider.

  • 2017 Fiat 124 Spider
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4(Est.)
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    160 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    183 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    1.4 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    6.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    24995
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8.2/10

Exterior

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
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When we rendered the Fiat 124 Spider, we thought the Italians won’t meddle too much with the Miata’s styling. Sure, we figured there will be new front and rear fascia, a revised grille, and new wheels, but we expected the 124 Spider to retain the MX-5’s shape and size as to reduce development costs as much as possible. It turns out we were wrong, as Fiat crafted an entirely different body for the Miata’s chassis.

The 124 Spider is a more stylish proposition to the already superb MX-5 Miata.

And I must say I’m more than happy we were wrong, as the 124 Spider is a more stylish proposition to the already superb MX-5 Miata.

What makes the 124 Spider such a beautiful car is that it borrowed several styling cues from the original model. Designed by Tom Tjaarda at Pininfarina, the first-generation 124 Sport Spider, which was launched in 1966, is widely considered one of the most beautiful roadsters ever built. And I’m not talking about design elements that are somewhat similar to those of the original 124 Spider. No! Fiat actually built a modern interpretation of its classic roadster, with numerous features reminding me of the 1960s sports car.

If you’re not familiar with the original car, both the hexagonal upper grille and its pattern closely resemble those of the classic roadster. The hexagonal grille remained unchanged throughout the car’s lifetime, while the mesh that inspired the one of the current model was introduced in the early 1970s. The turn signals mounted below the headlamps and toward the edges of the bumper are also reminiscent of the original car. Sure, the headlamps and the bumper are different and the old roadster didn’t have a lower grille and foglamps, but Fiat did a great job bringing these old and modern cues together.

The twin "power domes" on the engine hood are also similar to the original 124’s and round out the the roadster’s neo-retro appearance.

The rear fascia is also a close tribute to the first-generation Spider. Not only the trunk lid is shaped in a similar way, but it also sits lower than the upper edges of the rear fenders. The panels go downward toward the lid, creating the exact same design feature seen on the original car. Not only that, but it’s also a bold thing to do on a 21st century car. Below, Fiat went with a pair of horizontal taillamps to further remind us of the roadster’s spiritual predecessor. Though the units have nothing in common with the original Spider’s, they are slightly angled as seen on the U.S.-spec Fiat roadsters of the late 1970s.

I think that the Fiat 124 Spider is arguably the most beautiful, elegant, and well-proportioned neo-retro design I've seen in a very long time.

Impressively enough, the profile of the new 124 Spider is also similar to its predecessor’s. The modern roadster has the same low-slung presence, with the beltline descending slightly from the fenders toward the rear section of the doors, only to form a pair of muscular, yet subtle and stylish fenders above the rear wheels. Rounding off the neo-retro design is the silver-painted windscreen frame, an element that’s usually finished in the same color as the body. The silver frame is also a tribute to the classic car, which had a chrome structure.

All told, I think that the Fiat 124 Spider is arguably the most beautiful, elegant, and well-proportioned neo-retro design I’ve seen in a very long time.

Styling aside, the 124 Spider is slightly bigger than the MX-5, as the Italian roadster is 5.5 inches longer and 0.2 inches wider. On the other hand, it sits a tenth-inch lower (though it’s not exactly noticeable).

The 124 Spider will be offered in two trim levels, Classica and Lusso. Customers will be able to choose from six exterior colors for both trims: 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). Additionally, the Lusso version will also be available in tri-coat Bianco Perla (Crystal White Pearl).

Those selecting the more expensive Lusso model will get standard 17-inch wheels, silver-painted A-pillar header and roll-bar cover, dual-tip chrome exhaust and fog lamps.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656069

Note: Fiat 124 Prima Edizione Lusso pictured here.

In the U.S., the first 124 vehicles will be sold as a limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso. Each will be individually numbered with a commemorative badge and available in Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint. Owners will also get a number of limited-edition items, including wearables and a poster.

Old Vs New - Comparison

2017 Fiat 124 Spider
- image 656059

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 2,310 MM (90.94 Inches)
Track, Front 1,496 MM (58.89 Inches)
Track, Rear 1,503 MM (59.17 Inches)
Overall Length 4,054 MM (159.60 Inches)
Overall Width 1,740 MM (68.50 Inches)
Overall Height 1,233 MM (48.54 Inches)

Interior

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Interior
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2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Interior
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2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Interior
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While the exterior is radically different than the MX-5’s, the interior is almost identical. Everything from the dashboard, center console, and steering wheel to the infortainment system and the seats are similar to the Miata’s, but there are certain features that make the 124 Spider stand out. While the dashboard is the same, it does come with an extra layer of leather on its lower section. The same goes for the steering wheel, which has the same three-spoke layout, but employs a Fiat badge and leather trim. Because of the leather, the steering wheel is also a tad thicker.

The door panels, on the other hand, are unique to the 124 Spider.

The door panels, on the other hand, are unique to the 124 Spider. The upper section that’s body-colored on the Miata has a different shape on the Fiat, while the lower section has been redesigned, gaining a chrome handle and different pockets. Another feature that’s been customized for the 124 Spider is the instrument cluster, which uses fonts and colors that are in line with the current Fiat lineup.

Headroom, legroom, hip room, and shoulder room are the same as the Miata’s.

As far as tech goes, the infotainment system, which is option on both trims, includes a 7-inch touchscreen display, AM/FM radio, HD Radio, MP3 player, two USB ports, auxiliary input, six speakers, multimedia control, Bluetooth connectivity, rear camera and 3D navigation. The system also comes with voice recognition that allows drivers to operate their mobile phone, music and navigation system handsfree.

Options include a navigation system, a Bose premium sound system with nine speakers, and access to App Aha and Stitcher Internet radio via Bluetooth connectivity.

Drivetrain

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656089
Motivation for the 124 Spider comes from the same turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Fiat 500 Abarth.

Motivation for the 124 Spider comes from the same turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Fiat 500 Abarth. Output figures are identical, meaning the roadster comes with 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque on tap. That’s five horses and 36 pound-feet more than the Miata’s 2.0-liter SkyActiv powerplant. While horsepower is similar, the Fiat has a healthy torque advantage and benefits from it much lower in the rev range. On the other hand, the 124 Spider is 100 pounds heavier than the Miata, which means that the roadsters are pretty close as far as power-to-weight ratio is concerned.

Although the engines are completely different, the transmissions aren’t, meaning the Fiat can be had with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. While the automatic has the same gearing as the MX-5’s save for the final drive ratio, the manual is a bit different due to the turbo engine’s rev range. There’s no word on performance yet, but the 124 Spider should be able to hit 62 mph from a standing start in around 6.9 seconds, a tenth-second slower than the Abarth, and nearly a half-second quicker than the Mazda MX-5, on its way to a top speed of at least 130 mph.

In Europe, the roadster will have less power at its disposal, with the four-banger tuned to generate 138 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of twist.

As far as fuel economy goes, the Italian roadster returns 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway with the manual gearbox and 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with the automatic transmission. For reference, the MX-5 is good for 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with the manual and 27 city and 36 mpg with the automatic.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type and Description In-line four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, turbocharged
Displacement 1,368 cc
Bore x Stroke 72.0 x 84.0
Power 160 HP
Torque 184 LB-FT
0 to 60 MPH TBA
Top Speed TBA

Safety

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656093

The Italian roadster is available with an array of safety features, including adaptive front headlamps, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection and ParkView rear backup camera. A high-strength body helps to dissipate energy while optimizing occupant protection, while the Active Hood system helps protect pedestrians in the unfortunate event of an impact. All models are equipped with airbags for both the driver and the passenger, as well as three-point seatbelts.

Prices

Pricing for the 124 Spider starts from $24,995 in the U.S., not including the $995 destination, which makes it only $995 more expensive than the Mazda MX-5, which retails from $24,915 plus an $800 delivery fee.

For $24,995, you get the base Classica trim with the six-speed manual transmission. Update to the automatic gearbox and the sticker jumps to $26,345. Next in line is the Lusso trim, which fetches $27,495 with the manual and $28,845 with the automatic.

The Prima Edizione Lusso, limited to only 124 units and sold with a commemorative badge, Azzurro Italia exterior paint and exclusive items such as wearables and a poster, starts from $35,000. This one is available only with the automatic transmission.

As for the slightly more powerful Abarth model, it comes in at $28,195 with the manual and $29,545 with the automatic.

Model Transmission Price
Fiat 124 Spider Classica Six-speed manual $24,995
Fiat 124 Spider Classica Six-speed automatic $26,345
Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Six-speed manual $27,495
Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Six-speed automatic $28,845
Fiat 124 Spider Abarth six-speed manual $28,195
Fiat 124 Spider Abarth six-speed automatic $29,545
Fiat 124 Spider Prima Edizione Lusso six-speed automatic $35,000

Competition

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 614474

One issue that comes along with sharing a platform with other automakers is that you immediately help create your own competition. The 124 Spider and the MX-5 may have different styling and engines that will likely attract different buyers, but with the roadster market being so thin, there is almost no way that buyers won’t cross-shop the brands. The MX-5 is a little disappointing in the drivetrain, as is comes with a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine that produces 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. While it has similar horsepower to the 1.4-liter turbo engine from Fiat, it has less torque, and it is torque that gives you exhilarating acceleration. The Mazda MX-5 retails from $24,915.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656087

As much as I like the new Miata and its lightweight, Lotus-inspired personality, I must confess I dig the Fiat 124 Spider a lot more. That’s probably because I’m a big fan of the classic Italian roadsters of the 1960s and 1970s, especially the 124 Spider, but I’m also impressed with the way Fiat managed to bring the original Spider into the 21st century. Reviving a nameplate isn’t easy and creating a beautiful and well-balance neo-retro design is even harder (I’m looking at you Chrysler PT Cruiser and eleventh-generation Ford Thunderbird). Fiat nailed it and I wouldn’t be surprised is the 124 Spider becomes a hit with roadster enthusiasts. Also, it’s the first Fiat that’s actually exciting to look at in a very long time (maybe even decades).

And it’s not just the design. The Fiat also features a peppier drivetrain, it’s not that much heavier, and it comes with more upscale options. In many ways, the 124 Spider is the more powerful and premium MX-5 we never got. Sure, it is a bit pricier in standard trim, but the gorgeous exterior and the turbocharged engine will make it well worth the extra bucks.

  • Leave it
    • A bit more expensive than the MX-5
    • 100 pounds heavier than the Mazda

Updated History

Updated 04/29/2016: FCA dropped prices on the recently launched 124 Spider, and, as expected it was priced pretty much similar to the Mazda MX-5. Check "Prices" section for the full details.

Updated 11/20/2015: We added a series of new images taken during the car’s official debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Spy Shots

September 28, 2015 - Fiat 124 Spider caught with the top down

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Exterior Spyshots
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Press Release

The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider revives the storied nameplate, bringing its classic Italian styling and performance to a new generation. Paying homage to the original 124 Spider nearly 50 years after its introduction, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider delivers the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety combined with iconic Italian design.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656080

"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."

Engaging driving dynamics through thoughtful engineering

In North America, the Fiat 124 Spider is available with the proven 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine, the engine’s first application in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The engine delivers 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 124 Spider’s suspension uses a double-wishbone layout in front and a multi-link in the rear, specifically tuned for greater stability while braking and turning. Steering is light and responsive with the use of an electric power assist (dual pinion) system.

The steering and suspension setup, lightweight frame, balanced weight distribution and turbocharged engine combine for a dynamic driving experience. Noise vibration and harshness (NVH) enhancements, including an acoustic front windshield and insulation treatments, also help to deliver a refined, quiet ride.

For an open-air driving experience, the Fiat 124 Spider’s soft convertible top is easy to operate and requires minimal force, much like the original Spider’s top.

Loaded with safety, security and technology features

The all-new roadster is available with an array of safety and security features, including adaptive front headlamps, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection and ParkView rear backup camera. A high-strength body helps to dissipate energy while optimizing occupant protection.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656081

The Fiat 124 Spider is also available with technology features for added comfort and convenience, including the FIAT Connect 7.0 system with 7-inch touchscreen display, multimedia control, Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats and Keyless Enter ’n Go.

A Bose premium sound system with nine speakers, including dual headrest speakers, is also available for superior sound quality even with the top down.

Design pays homage to past with modern interpretation of styling cues

The all-new Fiat 124 Spider, designed at Centro Stile in Turin, Italy, borrows cues from the original Spider – widely considered one of Fiat’s most beautiful cars of all time – and reinterprets them for today. The 2017 124 Spider has a timeless low-slung presence, with a classically beautiful bodyside, well-balanced proportions and a sporty cabin-to-hood ratio. Features like the hexagonal upper grille and grille pattern, "power domes" on the front hood and sharp horizontal rear lamps call to mind details of the historic Spider.

The interior is crafted and designed to focus on the occupants, with premium soft-touch materials throughout. Ergonomics were applied to emphasize the driving experience and ensure easy operation of the steering wheel, pedals and shifter while driving.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is available in two trim levels: Classica and Lusso. Each model is available in 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). The Lusso ("Luxury") model is also available in tri-coat Bianco Perla (Crystal White Pearl).

Special edition gives enthusiasts the chance to own one of the first 2017 Fiat 124 Spiders

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
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To celebrate the return of the classic nameplate, the first 124 vehicles will be offered as a limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso, as shown at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. Each will be individually numbered with a commemorative badge and available in exclusive Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint with premium leather seats in Saddle. Owners who purchase a Prima Edizione will also receive limited-edition items, including wearables and a poster. For more information about ordering a Fiat 124 Spider Prima Edizione, interested customers can sign up for updates at http://www.fiatusa.com.

The all-new Fiat 124 Spider will arrive in FIAT studios in North America in summer 2016.

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