This luxurious sports model celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Fiat Spider and delivers on performance, technology and, of course, style. With multiple trim levels including Classica, Lusso and Lusso Plus and eight colours to choose from, Fiat’s customisation is carried through to the top of their range.
The devil is in the detail with distinctive LED headlights with AFS (Adaptive Front-lighting System) and a numbered plate on the limited anniversary editions of which there are only 124 available in the UK. The 16-inch or optional 17-inch alloy wheels frame the elegantly sculpted body. The extra five inches on the chassis have created more boot room (140 litres), but the lion under the bonnet can still shift this extra weight. Fiat have balanced comfort and handling on one beautiful seesaw with this new model.
This premium cabin utilises quality materials and is designed to maximise style. Low-slung wrap around seats heighten the driving experience, while the ergonomically designed steering wheel has mounted controls to let you concentrate on the road. The brushed metal detailing and stitched leather adds to the luxury of this model, and the optional leather heated seats make the drive even more comfortable.
The Spider was created for pure driving pleasure and brings the Italian roadster experience to life for a new generation. It’s sporting prowess remains firmly in place with subtle reminders, such as the twin exhaust outlets and low driving position. The turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is proven to pack a punch with rear-wheel drive perfectly distributing weight. It fires from 0 to 60mph in around 7.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 134mph.
The high-spec performance of this car is matched with quality technology including keyless go and optional keyless entry. The 7-inch touchscreen display with multimedia control, available with the Lusso trim, includes 3D maps navigation, DAB radio, WiFi, Bluetooth connection, two USB ports and AUX input. Top of the range trim includes a superior Bose sound system of nine speakers with four mounted in the headrests, so you never miss a beat. The excellent driver assist features include a rear parking camera and sensors to help you squeeze into tighter spaces. Fiat’s energy-absorbing body structure and four airbags prove that this high-speed model doesn’t scrimp on safety.
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Fiat’s take on the Mazda MX-5 has finally arrived in the UK. We went to find out how it compares.
Amazingly, the 124 manages to be both very new and hardly new at all. It shares little more than a name with the old 124, which went out of production in the 1980s, but it shares much with a far more modern roadster – the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5.
The bodywork takes cues from the old car, what with the round headlights and the wide, vertical grille, but applies them in a distinctly modern way. The majority of the underpinnings, meanwhile, are pretty much straight from Mazda’s much-acclaimed drop-top.
Granted, the suspension has been tweaked, but otherwise the only major change is the new powertrain. Unlike the MX-5, which uses naturally aspirated 1.5- and 2.0-litre engines, the 124 gets a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. It sits between the two Mazda engines in terms of power output, but the turbocharger gives it more torque and more mid-range grunt, lending the Fiat a very different character to its Japanese sibling.
The 138bhp engine may be less powerful than the MX-5’s 158bhp 2.0-litre unit, but it offers similar performance. The 7.5-second sprint from 0-62mph is two-tenths slower than the Mazda’s, but the 134mph top speed is marginally faster.
With the MX-5 as a baseline, it’s no surprise that the 124 Spider is a great car to drive, but there is a very different character to the Fiat.
In the real world it feels substantially quicker than the Mazda. The turbocharger gives it real punch and means you don’t have to drop so many cogs when overtaking. There is a touch of turbo lag, which is a little annoying, but keeping it on the boost is a small, yet rewarding, challenge.
No matter which angle you approach it from, the 124 Spider is an impossibly pretty car. From the wide front and the wide, rounded headlights to the creases in the long bonnet and the square tail lights, it’s a stunning thing to look at.
Inside, it’s basically identical to the MX-5, with the circular air vents, driver-focused cockpit and seven-inch infotainment system that perches on the main dashboard. There are a few differences, though, such as the optional Tobacco leather fitted to our test car and the gear lever, which is slightly more comfortable and ergonomic.
The changes are just enough to give the 124 a charming Italian character that the MX-5 can never match. The Mazda may be a pure driving machine, but the Fiat is undoubtedly the more stylish option.
As with the MX-5, the 124 Spider is hardly the last word in spaciousness. It’s only a two-seater, and there isn’t even a glove box as such, although you do get a small cubbyhole in the centre console and a lockable box between the seats.
There is a little more space in the boot, but it’s hardly cavernous back there. Official figures tell you there’s 140 litres of space, although you’d be hard pushed to get much in. The opening is far narrower than the boot itself and because there’s a huge boot lip, you’ll have to heft heavy items quite a way to drop them in.
The 124 Spider pricing starts from £19,545, which buys you the basic Classica trim. It’s £1,100 more expensive than the basic 1.5-litre MX-5, but you do get the more potent turbocharged engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless start and air conditioning, as well as other niceties such as cruise control.
As a soft-top you could live with every day, the 124 actually beats the MX-5 by a nose, but it is noticeably more expensive than the Mazda and doesn’t offer quite the same performance or handling.
As a result, buying the Fiat is very much an emotional commitment, rather than a rational one. You’ll always respect the MX-5 for being a technical masterpiece, but you’ll love the 124.
Take a closer look by using our interior and exterior tours
Terms and Conditions
Fuel consumption figures for the Fiat 124 Spider range in mpg (l/100km): Urban 31.0 (9.1) – 33.2 (8.5); Extra Urban 54.3 (5.2) – 55.4 (5.1); Combined 42.8 (6.6) – 44.1 (6.4). CO₂ emissions 148 – 153 g/km. Fuel consumption and CO₂ values are obtained for comparative purposes in accordance with EC directives/regulations and may not be representative of real life driving conditions. Factors such as driving style, weather and road conditions may also have a significant effect on fuel consumption.
*Personal Contract Hire. Fiat 124 Spider S-Design 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140hp. Initial rental of £3,781, followed by 23 monthly rentals of £199, incl. VAT & excl. maintenace. Based on 6,000 miles p.a. Excess mileage charges apply. Vehicles must be ordered between 01/10/18 and 31/12/18 and registered by 31/03/19. Whilst stock lasts. Subject to status. Guarantees may be required. Participating retailers only. Ts&Cs apply. Leasys, SL1 0WU.