Fiat 124 Spider: Better Than a Miata?

2017-Fiat-124-Spider

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is finally getting its First Drive reviews, and the results are consistent: the much-anticipated new roadster from Fiat is as mediocre as you might expect.

Well, maybe that’s not fair. The 124 Spider is getting some good reviews, but there’s nothing out there saying this is the car that’ll turn Fiat into a best-selling automaker. So far, most agree that the new Fiat roadster is a good car, if not a great one.

The base model could be an exception. Skipping the fancy luxury and performance trims could give owners one of the most respected driver’s cars on the road today. That’s assuming, of course, they are among the few people looking for what the 124 Spider has to offer.

First and foremost, it’s important to know that the 124 Spider shares its bones, and nearly its entire interior, with the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Fiat has different sheetmetal and a 160-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in place of the Miata’s 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-banger.

The cars share an identical wheelbase, but the Fiat is about 5 inches longer. That provides a little more trunk space and some wiggle room for cooling the turbocharged engine. Fiat engineers also adjusted the suspension to address the Miata’s propensity for body roll.

Fiat had an opportunity here to create an affordable Italian-designed RWD sports car, but the general consensus is that the design missed the mark. The huge dual grilles up front add a lot of visual weight and the sides lack character.

Still, at just $25,990, the base 124 Spider Classica is a solid value for a driver’s touring car. Why should someone choose the base trim over the more luxurious Lusso or sporty Abarth? Because, get this, the Abarth comes with just 4 additional horsepower while the Lusso adds bigger wheels and leather seats. Thankfully, a manual transmission remains standard on all three trims, because the 124 Spider, however it’s dressed, begs for row-your-own shifting.

Here’s what Autoblog had to say,

The 124 Spider is fundamentally a mature, grown-up MX-5 that rides more smoothly and has easily accessible but moderate levels of power. The exhaust doesn’t drone, and with the top up, it’s much quieter than the MX-5 – both of these qualities help fight fatigue from long hours on the road. Pair that with the smoother suspension and the Fiat 124 Spider brings some comfort and sophistication to the parts of the trip in between the tight corners.

The bottom line is this: If you’re looking for a car that performs best on mountain curves or on the track, take home the Mazda. If you want a touring roadster for long road trips, the Fiat is the way to go.

I’d take mine in Classica trim and with a manual transmission.

Will you test-drive the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider?

-tgriffith

Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Mazda MX-5 Miata
Used Fiat 124 Spider (You might find some great, inexpensive older models here!)

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