Quick Spin: Fiat 124 Spider is a light and lively two-seater
Lovers of light, nimble, two-seat sports cars that don’t break the bank are in luck.
The Fiat 124 Spider, and the mechanically similar Mazda Miata MX-5, share much of the same goodness, but offer different design aesthetics and engines. The Fiat shows off its Italian DNA with slightly longer and more traditional body lines, while the more compact Miata looks like the automotive equivalent of a bullet in flight.
After a week in a topof-the-line Fiat 124 Abarth, which is assembled in Japan alongside the Miata, we think lovers of classic roadsters will prefer the Fiat with its elongated hood, sculpted rump and upgraded interior.
Our tester, in metallic silver paint with 17-inch gun metallic wheels, has a black drop-top. For this year, Fiat has also added a Red Top option. We’ve seen photos, and the Spider red top looks gorgeous over light gray paint.
JUST THE FACTS: The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is the sportiest version of the Spider line, with a host of cosmetic and performance upgrades. The rearwheel-drive Spider is a close cousin to the Mazda MX-5 Miata; so members of the automotive press have dubbed it the “Fiata.” Because of its two-seat configuration and microtrunk,
the 124 Spider is often a second or third car for most owners, and is thus reserved for sunny days and open roads.
The 124 Spider Abarth is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that makes 164 horsepower and slingshots the 2,436-pound roadster from zero-to-60 mph in 6.5 seconds according to Car and Driver. The Miata, on the other hand, has a 2.0-liter, normally aspirated engine that makes 155 horsepower.
HOW MUCH, AND WHERE: Our tester, which represents the higher reaches of 124 Spider pricing, has an MSRP of $34,525. Pricing for a base model starts at $24,995. Fiats are available at Crown Fiat of Chattanooga on Chapman Road.
OPTIONS WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT: The six-speed automatic transmission in our tester is a $1,350 upgrade. Most sports-car purists would prefer the standard, manual gearbox.
OPTIONS WE LOVE: Upgrading to the Abarth trim line nets aluminum pedals, a “sport” driving mode, a limited-slip differential, heated imitation-leather seats and the special gun-metal aluminum wheels.
SAFETY FIRST: A $1,495 “convenience group” bundles blind-spot and cross-path monitoring, rear-park assist and heated exterior mirrors — all valuable safety-tech features.
FUEL ECONOMY: The Fiat 124 Spider is a gas sipper. The government says to expect 36 mpg in highway driving and 29 mpg in the city.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR CHATTANOOGA: The Fiat 124 Abarth cuts through our mountain roads like a hot knife through butter. This is the ultimate day-trip car for couples who enjoy dropping the top and soaking in the area’s scenic beauty.
BOTTOM LINE: The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is a near perfect car for driving enthusiasts who want to experience crisp, sportscar handing in an economical, open-cockpit auto.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.
The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is a fun-to-drive two-seater built alongside the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
The drop top on the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider can be flung back with one hand at a stoplight.