The Fiat 124 Spider has been earning rave reviews over the past six months or so. We thought it was the right time to get a closer look and see what all the fuss is about. If you are in the market for a zippy, stylish, and great value little sports car – read on. Our review should give you everything you need to know about the latest Spider from Fiat.
Those of you who pay attention to the budget sports car will recall the fantastic Mazda MX 5. It is a stunning little vehicle that offers superb value, pretty much owning the budget sports car market. Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it finally has a worthy rival in the Fiat 124 Spider. That said, there are a lot of similarities between the two vehicles – the Spider shares the same Mazda chassis, for example. But there are some subtle differences that – we think – gives Fiat the edge. We’ll go into that a little later.
The Spider boasts a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine – and that’s it. There are no diesel options or hybrids at play here, which keeps things nice and straightforward for prospective buyers. It offers plenty of power and has enough zip to it to feel great on the roads. It sounds magnificent, too, thanks to the sporty-looking exhaust on the back. Regarding fuel consumption, Fiat reckons you can push more than 44 miles per gallon – not bad at all for a sports car. And, when you consider that CO2 emissions are only 148g/km, it’s got green credentials, too. Of course, it won’t get close to touching a hybrid or electric, but fo driving around a city, that is not a bad figure as petrol engines go.
The budget sports car market has a new player in town. You can pick up a Fiat 124 Spider for less than £20,000 – although this can top £30,000 with add-ons. Still, even the top end of these price points is a bargain when you compare it to other sports cars of similar size – the Lotus Elise, for example. Regarding value, you just aren’t getting better at the moment – which we’ll explain a bit more later. The low price also points towards some excellent financing deals. We had a look around several registered Fiat dealers, and the likes of Thames Motor Group are likely to be offering affordable plans on release.
Looks and appearance
We’re just going to dive straight in and say it: the 124 Spider is gorgeous. It has curves in all the right places. According to Top Gear, it’s a bit of a mashup – a touch of Dodge Viper, some Ford Thunderbird and a little bit of Chrysler Crossfire. But in our eyes – and many other car reviewers – it oozes style. We can see it being pitched at the more mature market, unlike the MX 5 which has an element of youth to it.
Getting into the seats, the Spider is compact, for sure, and the two-seater cabin might put off some people. But it’s so comfortable and low that we think it’s going to change a few minds. That said, if you are a taller person, the Spider might not be the best bet for you. The roof is low, and when it’s in the convertible mode, you will find yourself peering over the windshield rather than through it.
The 124 Spider’s dash is well laid out and brings a more classic look to it than most other sports cars on the market. The Italians tend to go for sophistication over technology, and it’s well apparent in the new Fiat. We love the rotary controllers and the instruments all point towards the central rev counter. It’s unfussy, clean, and stylish – which is all we want out of a dashboard.
With regards to gadgets and equipment, there will be a few differences between the entry level and most expensive options. While the full list has yet to be released, it’s likely the Spider will feature the same 7-inch touchscreen you find in the MX 5 as standard. You can also expect a leather steering wheel and gear stick grip. The extra cost is likely to go towards more specialised features such as sound system upgrades and rear view parking sensors or camera. We’ll reserve judgement on whether these will be worth it until we hear the official news.
Space and practicality
Sports cars have never been practical – it defeats the point. So, it’s no surprise that the 124 Spider is more than a little underwhelming with regards to boot space. There are 140 litres, so that is something – but it’s not going to be carrying more than a couple of bags of shopping. That said, Fiat have made good use of the available space. The Spider forgoes the traditional glove box for a compartment in between the seats. There are no door pockets, either, although both driver and passenger get a cup holder. The focus here is entirely on the experience of driving, so frills and storage have taken a back seat completely. It all adds to the effect of driving a sports car, though, and it’s something that owners will not be worried about at all.
While we can’t predict the future, we do have Mazda’s safety record for the MX 5 to consider. As with all Japanese car makers, Mazda has built up an excellent reputation for safety and reliability – and the MX 5 is a perfect example. Expect the same from the Spider on launch. Fiat isn’t known for their reliability if we’re honest. But, with this exceptional Japanese input, we think the 124 Spider will be a careful and responsible owner’s dream.
Unless you are tall or need a car to travel with your family, the 124 Spider is pretty much the perfect budget roadster. It oozes appeal in the looks department and has plenty under the bonnet to match. The price point offers excellent value, too – expect to see plenty of Spiders on the roads in the next couple of years.