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Fiat 124 Spider Review

Fiat 124 Spider Tested December 2016

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Quick Summary

Recommended. A different prospect to the car it’s based on, but it’s an appealing Italian roadster.

Road Test

If the Fiat 124 Spider looks a little familiar, that’s probably because it has quite a lot to do with the Mazda MX5.

This is no bad thing, as the MX5 is an excellent sports car.

The 124 shares its platform, mechanicals and interior, as well as the windscreen.

But it looks and feels a little chunkier, indeed, it is actually slightly longer.

It’s almost got a bit of a grand tourer look about it; it’s a little less sports car, but just a little.

The view out of the driver’s seat is of a nice long bonnet, it has an almost stately feel about it.

On the road, it’s not quite as tight and fun as the MX5, but it is still plenty satisfying to drive.

The handling is sharp and there’s lots of grip – it’s good fun and has proper sports car rear-wheel-drive. With the engine up front, that makes for excellent weight distribution.

The engine is all Fiat – a 1.4 turbo Multiair petrol.

That makes for a good combination of performance and economy.

It’s good for 140hp and, while not possessing quite the same fizz as its Japanese cousin’s 1.5 and 2.0 normally-aspirated engines, it’s still lively, with 62mph up in 7.5 seconds and a top end of 133mph.

The engine also emits a nice sporty rumble to add to the experience and the drive is further enhanced by a very good, tight and direct manual gearbox.

It puts out a reasonable 148g/km of CO2 and combined mpg is 44, a figure that we found pretty easy to achieve in everyday driving.

The 124 is, of course, another retro reboot from Fiat, at least in as much as its name comes from a model launched 50 years ago.

And the new one stays true to that car in many ways – it’s light, good to drive and oozes Italian style.

So maybe it’s not quite the driver’s car that the MX5 is, but perhaps it’s more about look and feel – it has the Italian roadster style that the Mazda just can’t match.

The interior has a quality feel to it, with leather and stitching making it a pleasant place to be.

Space-wise of course things are a bit tight and taller drivers might struggle to get comfortable.

Ironically, the MX5 is the 124’s only true rival, but where the Mazda is the real lightweight pure driver’s car choice, the Fiat offers less of that and more of the style.

And there’s only a few hundred quid difference in the price, with both cars under £19,000, so it’s driving purity versus a bit of style.

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