What do you get if you cross a Fiat with a Miata? A Fiata? Sadly, that sounds a bit too much like what ‘fart’ in Italian might sound like, so instead what we’ve got here is the new Fiat 124 Spider. In case it wasn’t obvious enough already, what Fiat has done here is take Mazda’s excellent fourth-generation MX-5 platform and used it as a base to create a new roadster for the brand. If you look at the new 124 Spider and compare it to an MX-5, it’s clear that the Fiat isn’t just a rebadged Mazda – like what Toyota and Subaru did with the 86 and BRZ. But as you’ll find out, there’s still a lot of part sharing going on here…
One of the biggest differences with the 124 Spider is the all new bodywork, which Fiat says pays homage to the original 124 Spider from last century. Up front there’s an upright fascia featuring round headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, plus a long front grille helps gives the car a wide and low kind of look. I particularly like the smooth and subtle looking twin bonnet bulges.
Around the back there’s a pair of squared-off LED tail lights, twin exhaust outlets and little else. The simplistic rear end kind of has a whiff of second-gen Mazda MX-5 about it. Overall, Fiat’s design is simple and clean and I think it looks fantastic. It comparison, the new Mazda MX-5 has a more rounded and bulbous design which not only looks heavier visually, but in my eyes is also uglier with its small, squinty headlights.
The other big difference with the Fiat 124 Spider lays under the bonnet, where you’ll find Fiat’s 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which we’ve seen before in the 500 Abarth. It’ll be good for 119kW (160hp) of power and 249Nm (184lb-ft) of torque – more than even the 2.0L MX-5 – and will be available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Fiat promises that the 124 Spider has the soul of a proper Italian roadster, and after experiencing this engine in the 500 Abarth, you can be sure it will be a raspy, throaty, aural delight.
I mentioned before that the 124 Spider does share a lot of parts with the MX-5. One area in particular where this stands out the most is the interior, which aside from the steering wheel, has been lifted in its entirety out of the MX-5. To me this is a big disappointment, as visually the interior itself screams ‘MAZDA’ and completely goes against the ‘Italian roadster’ vibe Fiat are trying to achieve here. Luckily, this means the 124 Spider does receive the same benefits that you’d find in an MX-5, such as the ‘easy to unlatch and throw back’ soft top roof and excellent driving position.
Fiat will launch the 124 Spider next Summer, and the first 124 examples will be offered in a limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso trim, with individually numbered badges. Those first samples will be available in a unique Azzurro Italia (blue) paint.