FIAT 124 Spider

Model Overview

As one of only two affordable roadsters on the market today, the Fiat 124 Spider revives one of the Italian brand’s iconic nameplates. Utilizing the same platform as the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 124 Spider promises exciting driving dynamics and distinguishes itself from its Japanese sibling with turbo power as standard.


Fiat sold the original 124 Spider from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s but in its final years it was sold under as the 2000 Spider or the Pininfarina Europa Spider depending on the market. Under the hood was a twin-cam four-cylinder engine that was 1.4 liters in displacement and had 89 hp. Throughout its production life, the 124’s engine grew multiple times and in its last two years of production, was powered by a 133-hp 2.0-liter I-4. In addition to the standard 124 Spiders, Fiat’s tuning arm, Abarth, also produced higher-performance variants of the car. The Abarth 124 Rally featured a 126-hp 1.8-liter I-4, independent rear suspension, dual exhaust tips, four-wheel disc brakes, and a roll cage. Compared to the standard 124 Spider the Abarth 124 Rally was 55 pounds lighter because the rear seats were deleted along with the front and rear bumpers and glovebox cover. Other weight-saving measures include the use of aluminum and fiberglass in the car’s body construction and a smaller steering wheel. Recaro bucket seats were offered as an option. Fiat saw much success competing in rallies using the 124 Spider in the early 1970s but were eventually replaced by the Abarth 131 Rally in 1976.

The Latest Generation

Fiat revived the 124 Spider with the help of Mazda in 2016 as a 2017 model. The car uses the same platform as the fourth-generation MX-5 Miata but the suspension tuning is unique and the interior features more soft-touch materials. Compared to the Miata, the 124 Spider is longer by around five inches, wider by under half an inch, and lower by 0.1 inch. Unlike the Miata, the 124 Spider uses a Fiat-built 1.4-liter turbo-four with 160 hp in the Classica and Lusso trims or 164 hp in the Abarth and 184-lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox sourced from the outgoing third generation Miata is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. Due to the slightly larger exterior dimensions and the turbocharged engine, the Fiat 124 Spider is roughly 100 pounds heavier than the Miata it’s based on.

In a 2017 First Test of the base Classica trim, we said that the 1.4-liter four-pot suffers from turbo lag and it doesn’t come alive until its around 3,000 rpm. The skinnier tires also have a tendency to lose grip if you accelerate too much out of a corner and the turbo comes on. Unlike the Miata it’s based on, the 124 Spider also has less body roll, making it feel less playful on winding mountain roads. As a cruiser, the car excels because it has a smoother ride, quieter cabin, and plenty of mid-range torque, making it easy to pass slower traffic.

We also tested the more potent 124 Spider Abarth, which features a sport-tuned suspension with Blistein shocks, a shock tower brace, and a limited-slip differential. Despite peak torque arriving lower in the rev range when the car is in Sport mode, the 124 Abarth’s power delivery is less linear than the Miata and suffers from lots of turbo lag just like the non-Abarth variants.

Why You’d Consider One

Packing more torque than its Japanese cousin and an interior that’s a bit quieter, the Fiat 124 Spider offers a good balance of performance, handling, and comfort. The lack of body roll also means the 124 Spider feels more stable on the road compared to the Miata.

Why You’d Look Elsewhere

Although the Fiat 124 Spider is fun to drive, the 1.4-liter turbo-four isn’t as responsive as a naturally aspirated engine like the one found in the MX-5, making it less lively on the road.

Body Types: Convertible
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