The Fiat 124 Spider debuted in November 1966 at the Turin Auto Show and made its way to the U.S. in 1968. It was a hit, but production ended in 1985 after 19 years on the market. Now the iconic Italian roadster is back.
Fiat had to be careful with this one. People love the 124 Spider so you can’t mess with the design too much or you risk alienating customers. Go the other way and make it too much like the original and you won’t attract any new customers. It’s a fine line to walk.
Fiat pulls it off with a design that looks a lot like the original, but with modern flair. It’s got more attitude and sleeker lines. At its heart, though, it’s still a Fiat which means it looks good and it’s very fun to drive.
Seating was a big focus during the design process. The 124 Spider is both comfortable and supportive. Planning a leisurely Sunday drive? You’ll be nice and relaxed. Planning on hitting a track or tackling twisting mountain roads? You’re still good. The Spider’s seats hold you in place without being stiff or tiring.
The hood hides a four-cylinder engine that delivers up to 164 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. It comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The automatic shifts smoothly delivering power when you need it, but we prefer the manual.
A roadster is supposed to be a fun car and there is much fun to be had with the manual transmission on the Fiat 124 Spider. It shifts smoothly and easily with an equally nice clutch so it’s never tiring. Add responsive steering with sprightly handling and you’ve got one heck of a car.
Small cars like this can be tough on rough roads. Their performance focus means every last bump and dip comes through loud and clear and you feel it in your spine. The 124 Spider smooths out rough roads and still provides enough feedback so you know what’s happening with the surface under your wheels.
This is a roadster so you’re going to want to drive it with the top down as often as possible. Manual soft-tops can be awkward, but the 124 Spider does a fair job of making it easy to operate.
There’s a single, center latch that anyone can reach. Once released, it’s easy enough to push the top back with one hand, but getting it to click all the way into place behind your head is tricky. If you’re on the short side, then you’ll have to work to get the right angle to pop it all the way down.
Another challenge presented by soft-top convertibles is the noise. Sure, it’s noisy with the top down and that’s fine, but when it’s up you don’t want all the noise. Fiat worked to make the car quiet and it shows. You won’t forget you’re in a convertible, but the sound of a passing truck won’t drown out your conversation either.
There are three trim levels to choose from starting with the base Classica at $24,995. It’s the most affordable turbo-powered convertible in the county, but that doesn’t mean it’s bare bones. It has a dual-tip exhaust, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a silver-accented instrument panel. The Classica also features a 160-horsepower version of the 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine found across the model range.
Next up is the Lusso for $27,495 with an eye toward luxury. It has larger 17-inch alloy wheels, silver exterior trim accents, and heated premium leather seats along with leather on the instrument panel.
Sitting at the top of the heap is the Abarth for $28,195. It has the more upscale interior of the Lusso mixed with performance upgrades. The Abarth has 164 horsepower, front and rear Bilstein sport suspension, mechanical limited-slip differential, and front strut tower bar.
This isn’t just for show. You can feel the difference behind the wheel so if you’re buying a 124 Spider to really drive it, then the Abarth is the one for you. There’s even a Sport Mode and a quad exhaust with that drool-worthy Abarth sound.
If you want something extra special, then there’s the limited edition Prima Edizione Lusso at a price of $35,000. This includes the first 124 vehicles produced, which will be individually numbered and include a commemorative badge. It will be available only in Azzurro Italia blue with Saddle leather seats. You will not go unnoticed in this one.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is a little car that’s back in a big way. This new version of the iconic Italian roadster is sure to steal the hearts of a whole new generation of drivers.