Fiat 124 Spider Review
Fiat have gone back to their roots and brought a classic back to life, but can it be as popular as it was back then?
- Fun handling
- Simple trim levels
- Comfortable seats
- Speedo is in the wrong place in the instrument panel
Rewind to the swinging sixties when Fiat launched their sporty, little 124 Spider. Designed by the Italian powerhouse Pininfarina, it became iconic until 1980 with nearly 200,000 built, with still over 5,000 of them on roads today. Fast forward to 2016 and Fiat have decided to bring it back, but does it have enough of the Italian flair to take on the mighty Mazda MX-5?
On the Road
To make it really simple the 124 Spider comes with just one engine, the 1.4-litre turbo-multiair which produces 140hp and 240Nm of torque that gets from standing start to 62mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 134mph.
Using a 6-speed, short gearbox it has plenty of power from the off and makes light work of getting right up to speed. It works well in both urban and countryside environments as the dulcet turbo tones really make you want to push it to experience the full performance from the engine….so when the UK launch is on the famous ‘EVO Triangle’ driving roads in Wales then it makes for the ideal car to tackle it.
The rear-powered, lightweight 124 Spider sits low but the ride is quite firm and yet still forgiving on different road surfaces so if you’re looking for fun with a capital F then this is the car for you. Not only is it agile but it holds the road so well, putting it through its paces on the Evo Triangle was a true test of how responsive it would be on the tight, twisty stuff, but also the flowing sweepers.
If you want a car that not only handles superbly, grips the road and has the right sort of performance to match, then the Fiat 124 Spider definitely ticks all the right boxes.
As with any open top sports car, wind noise is particularly loud so it was a relief to finally get the roof up.
Engine noise is prevalent but in a good way, the turbocharged burble providing sweet vibes as you pushed it through the rev range.
With a sporty exterior looks that hark back to the original 124 Spider it’s highly unlikely that this will be mistaken for the MX-5. The sweeping bonnet leads to a dominant, bold grille that makes it as classy as the original.
With eight paint colours to choose from Passione Red to Italia Blue, there’s a good mix of metallic and solid colours.
In the car
The heated leather seats are comfortable, hugging you in all the right places and with a nine speaker Bose Surround System, four of them are in the headrests, so you can still sing along to your favourite tunes with the roof down.
It comes with DAB radio, WiFi, Bluetooth, two USB and an AUX port so smartphones can be connected.
With a seven-inch touchscreen taking pride of place on the centre stack, a start button and simple dials for climate control, it’s the instrument panel which they seemed to have not thought about. With a digital screen at one end, then the rev counter in the middle, the speedo then sits on the right and rather than looking straight down to see the speed, we kept having to avert our gaze to the right of the panel.
There are three trim levels: Classica, Lusso and Lusso Plus, some of the features on the entry level Classica include air conditioning, a leather steering wheel and gear knob and keyless engine start with just one option available, the seven-inch touchscreen costing £500. Extras on the Lusso are navigation, a rear parking camera, heated seats, front fog lamps, chrome exhaust tips and automatic climate control, while the top of the range Lusso Plus has LED headlamps and daytime running lights, the Bose sound system and automatic lights and wipers.
It’s a roadster so don’t expect loads of room, driver and passenger have plenty of legroom and with roof up there’s just about enough headroom if you’re tall.
The canvas, durable roof is opened and closed manually pretty quickly and once that’s up there is space behind the seats for a small bag.
The boot, although not huge at 140-litres, is really deep and would be enough for a large weekend bag although you’re not going to buy a roadster for the boot... the MX-5 in comparison is just 10-litres smaller.
There is a moveable drinks holder which sits between the seats and can then be moved to the side of the centre stack.
The Fiat 124 Spider costs from £19,545 for the entry level Classica rising to £23,295 for the Lusso Plus. The good thing is Fiat have kept it simple regarding options and there is only one available, the 7-inch touchscreen for the Classica trim costing £500. They’ve specced up the other two trims with a good amount of equipment so no confusing options to add and mount up the price.
Fiat have produced an Anniversary Edition at launch, but all 124 units have already been snapped up though.
It comes with a two year warranty/unlimited mileage warranty, which includes a three year paintwork one and an anti-perforating one lasting eight years.
For this sort of car running costs will be reasonable, Fiat reckon it’ll be able to achieve a combined 44.1mpg in fuel economy and it’ll emit 148g/km of CO2 so will fall into tax band F and cost £145 annually.
Quality seems more than adequate, the leather is of a premium feel and in the Lusso Plus trim it looks quite stylish with the contrasting Tobacco coloured interior.
Reliability isn’t always an area that Fiat excel at but with the popular 500 moving up driver satisfaction surveys then hopefully the 124 Spider will continue to move the manufacturer up the table.
To date the Fiat 124 Spider hasn’t been tested for the Euro NCAP rating but it comes with four airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, cruise control, a speed limiter, electronic stability control and ABS as standard.