2017-2020 Fiat 124 Spider: Future Classic - Autoblog - Latest Global News

2017-2020 Fiat 124 Spider: Future Classic – Autoblog

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider promised to unite two automotive cultures: the romance of the Italians and the focused finesse of the Japanese.

To put it simply, the Fiata, as enthusiasts called it, was in reality part Fiat, part Mazda and full of character. Unfortunately, the Miata MX-5 ND comes out on top in this limited market. By this point, mainstream consumers were already convinced that the SUV was the future; A small two-seater with a stick shift and a rumbling ride wasn’t on too many wish lists.

Of course, the Miata, constantly updated over the years, has survived to this day. The Fiata closed operations in 2020 after just four years. Fiat’s questionable reputation over the past few decades in America for reliability and build quality didn’t help push the sporty Spider up the sales charts.

Why is the Fiat 124 Spider a future classic?

The affordable roadster (not to be confused with the original Fiat Spider that debuted in the 1960s) landed on US shores in three trim levels: Classica, Lusso and the performance-oriented Abarth, with starting prices ranging from US$25,990 to US$28,195 -Dollar.

It was built alongside the Miata at Mazda’s Hiroshima factory in Japan. Comparisons of the two cars were expected and extensive: the Fiat used the same chassis, many of the same interior parts and even the same key fob as the Mazda. But the Spider had a different steering and suspension setup and a different engine under the hood. Of course both were convertibles.

Weight was a problem. The Spider’s 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four made 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, but that made it 130 pounds heavier than its Japanese near-twin.

Then there was turbo lag. One review stated that the Fiata Classica’s best 0-60 mph start required 6.5 seconds, not as quick as the 5.8-second start recorded in a Miata Club.

Fiat engineers managed to tame the Miata’s roll, but in doing so they robbed the 124 of one of its more enviable attributes: its throwing ability. The Fiat’s manual transmission received good marks, the automatic transmission less so.

The wind noise was terrible with the Fiat’s top down, which was sad as the 124 otherwise drove great on the motorway. It had a more compliant suspension than the MX-5 and more sound-insulating padding. Still, tall/tall people weren’t particularly happy inside either car; “Tight” was a polite way of describing head and shoulder room.

Speaking of highway driving, one Autoblog The review raved about the sounds of the Abarth in the highest trim level, calling it “the only 124 available with the special Record Monza exhaust, and it makes the Fiat growl and growl like only Italian cars can.”

Standard safety features on the 2017 Fiat included antilock disc brakes, side airbags, and stability and traction control. A reversing camera was available on all trim levels, while on the Lusso and Abarth a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors could be ordered via the Safety and Convenience package.

The 124’s interior has a touch of solid Euro-class quality with soft-touch plastics, simple climate controls and a Mazda-sourced touchscreen. Fiat also claimed its model had a larger trunk, but “bigger” is a bit of an exaggeration in this case: it measured 4.9 cubic feet compared to the Mazda’s 4.6 cubic feet.

What is the ideal example of the Fiat 124 Spider?

The 124 Abarth was promised by Fiat as a performance model. That boast was tempered somewhat in 2019, when the Abarth’s 164-hp 1.4-liter inline-four gave way to the Miata’s 181-hp 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine.

Nonetheless, the Abarth delivered 184 pound-feet of torque compared to the Miata’s 151 pound-feet. More importantly, the Abarth reduced its power at low levels and felt punchier at lower revs.

And the Abarth has added some real benefits on top of the 124’s lesser features, including a locking rear differential, improved shock absorbers and sharper steering and suspension tuning (and that aforementioned throatier exhaust note).

At the end of the day, the not-too-big $3,000 price increase over the Classica made a slightly more convincing argument for choosing the Abarth, plus consider the matte gunmetal hood and scorpion Abarth emblems front and rear.

Be sure to check out our used car offers. They can be helpful in finding a good deal. You can narrow down the options by a radius around your zip code, and be sure to look at the listing rating in each listing to see how a vehicle compares to other vehicles in a similar area.

Are there any good alternatives to the Fiat 124 Spider?

Used Spiders can be expensive. A 2017 white, automatic, single-handle Abarth with 33,000 miles, priced at $23,000 at the time of writing; Another 124 spiders cost about $20,000.

The alternatives were (and still are, with regard to the MX-5) limited. In terms of affordability, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 come to mind, which are a bit more sophisticated in terms of ride and features.

The Audi TT and Mini Cooper Roadster make sense for those who want the Fiata’s fun factor at a higher price, and both have German roots.

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