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2019 fiat 124 Spider

Long absent (and missed by many), Fiat's mainstream roadster is back and built to please, riding on a platform supplied by Mazda and wrapped in Italian style.  

Recent changes

For the latest model year, the 124 Spider gets a standard seven-inch touch screen. Fiat also expanded the list of options with a Monza exhaust and additional stripe options.

Overview

The Fiat 124 Spider is a two-seat, rear-wheel drive roadster based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata platform and built alongside the same in Hiroshima, Japan.

While the chassis may be supplied by Mazda, the sheetmetal and powertrains come from Fiat. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder engine mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

With the automatic, this combination is good for 25 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway (29 combined). Manual models get 26 in the city and 35 highway (30 combined). Both transmissions are available throughout the range.

In base form, the 1.4L engine produces 160 horsepower and184 lb-ft of torque. The Abarth version, which tops off the range, has been re-tuned for a few extra ponies, but relies more on suspension, differential and braking upgrades for its sporty edge.

Outside, the 124 shares nothing with its Japanese sibling. Base models come with 16" wheels, while Lusso and Abarth models bump that up to 17. Higher trim models also boast saddle leather seats (not available on the MX-5) or optional Recaros. The balance of the interior, however, remains largely unchanged.

Fiat also added additional sound insulation to the 124 as compared with the Miata, giving it a quieter, more refined cruising quality.

Trim level breakdown

The base 124 Spider is the "Classica." Standard equipment at this trim level includes halogen headlamps, LED tail lights, 16-inch wheels, dual exhaust outlets, manually-adjustable black cloth seats, a center-mounted 3" infotainment screen and silver-accented soft-touch interior materials. The standard radio is an AM/FM/CD/MP3 unit with USB and auxiliary inputs located in the center console.

An available package dubbed the "Technology Collection" upgrades the infotainment screen to a 7-inch unit with an included backup camera. It also adds remote proximity keyless entry.

Bumping up to the "Lusso" adds a host of premium features, including 17" aluminum wheels, silver-painted interior and exterior trim (including the windshield surround and rollover hoops), a chrome exhaust finish, heated premium saddle or black leather seats, a leatherette dash wrap and gloss black interior accents.

Two packages are available for the Lusso: The "Premium Collection" and the "Safety and Comfort Collection."

The Premium Collection adds a nine-speaker Bose stereo system with a subwoofer, adaptive front headlamps, auto-dimming outside and interior mirrors, blind spot monitoring, LED headlamps and DRLs, GPS navigation, headlamp washers and rear park assist and a one-year SiriusXM satellite radio subscription.

The Safety and Comfort Collection is a slimmed down version of the Premium Collection. It adds just auto-dimming mirrors, heated outside mirrors and blind spot monitoring.

Abarth

The Abarth model pumps out a few more ponies than the standard model, but its true credentials come from its chassis upgrades.

Abarth models come standard with a limited-slip differential and a Bilstein sport suspension. They can also be equipped with a Brembo brake package, Recaro sport seats and two package (similar to the "Premium Collection" and the "Safety and Comfort Collection" available on the Lusso) to add a little more convenience to the Spider's sportiest variant.

Occupant safety

Convertibles aren't typically known for their safety credentials, but the 124 Spider makes do with what it has. Basic equipment includes advanced airbags and an advanced stability control system designed to mitigate the risk of rollovers.

Additional safety features, such as blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera and park assist, are available in packages.

Key competitors

The principal competitor to the 124 Spider is its Japanese platform mate, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. For those who must have a rear-wheel-drive convertible but don't care so much about size, the Ford Mustang Convertible and Chevrolet Camaro Convertible are viable alternatives. If the driven wheels are inconsequential, look at the Mini Cooper Convertible or Mini Cooper S Convertible or Volkswagen Beetle Convertible.