Come 2016, the much-loved Fiat 124 Spider will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. What better way to commemorate the occasion than revive the model itself? That's exactly what Fiat did with the all new 124 Spider that made its debut at the just-concluded Los Angeles Auto Show in California, USA.
Affordable sporty roadsters are a dying breed with the Mazda Miata having the segment all to itself, well almost. Enter Fiat, with a deal struck with Mazda enabling the Italian brand to use Miata's underpinnings, to create a roadster of its own. That's right, Mazda helped Fiat develop a rival for Mazda's own Miata!
Essentially, the 124 Spider is a Miata wearing Italian clothes. Does it look sufficiently different to create its own identity? Yes, it is. Fiat's idea with this car is to pay homage to the original 124 Spider from 1966, a popular roadster in the USA that's widely considered to be one of Fiat's most beautiful designs ever. The mesh grille and circular LED ring in the headlights are a clear ode to the original as are the 'power domes' in the hood. The profile is a work of art and features a flowing design that oozes appeal with the roof down. The rear, again, is inspired by the 124 Spider of yore and has rectangular taillights with twin chrome-tipped exhaust pipes. Despite sharing its mechanicals with the Miata, the Fiat is longer and wider than the Mazda as evident from the longer overhangs.
The interiors appear well finished but are very similar to the ones seen in the Mazda Miata. This is where Fiat could have made a difference and brought in Italian flair. Sadly, they have chosen not to. But then we aren't complaining as this borrowed cabin is a nice place for two to sit back and enjoy a relaxed ride. Classy bits in the cabin include beautiful chrome-ringed buttons in the center console and a 7-inch multimedia screen popping out of the dashboard. A 9-speaker premium sound system from Bose including dual headrest speakers is on offer too. Active safety suite include adaptive front headlamps, Blind-spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection.
Powering the rear wheels of the 124 Spider is a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir engine. For North America, the engine delivers 160 horsepower and 249 Nm of torque, mated to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Mazda Miata is one of the best driver's cars currently in production and the 124 Spider sharing its mechanicals is expected to be no different. With such an accomplished chassis and forced induction underneath, the 124 Spider should be a hoot to drive.
When it goes on sale in summer 2016, the first 124 vehicles would be offered in a limited 'Prima Edizione Lusso' edition to celebrate the return of this classic nameplate. Exclusivity is guaranteed in the form of Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint, premium leather seats in Saddle, individually numbered commemorative badge, custom wearables and a poster.