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- Highs Sharp Italian style, sporty and well-equipped interior, comfortable ride.
- Lows Disappointing engine, too-soft handling, tight cabin.
- Verdict The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider offers attractive Italian design, a well-appointed interior, and the fun of top-down motoring, but its performance and handling leave something to be desired.
Although the sporty, Italian-syled Fiat 124 Spider is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, it’s more than just a bunch of new badges. The 124 Spider has an exclusive turbocharged Fiat engine, unique suspension tuning, and a more upscale interior. It’s a bit more relaxed than the Miata, but it still provides thrills on a twisty road—and the same top-down, wind-in-your-hair feeling of freedom.
What's New for 2018?
The big news for 2018 is the introduction of the Red Top Edition, which adds a red convertible top, plus 17-inch silver-colored wheels, navigation, Bose audio, auto-leveling adaptive headlamps, and LED daytime running lights. Last year’s Safety and Comfort Collection package is now called the Comfort and Convenience Group, and the Luxury Collection package has been replaced by two new packages, the Visibility Group and the Navigation and Sound Group. There are also three new colors: Blu Scuro, Puro Bianco Perla, and Grigio Chiaro.
- Classica: $26,290
- Lusso: $28,890
- Abarth: $29,590
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Even with a power and torque advantage over the Miata’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the 124’s turbocharged 1.4-liter four is the lesser powerplant. It’s laggy, lazy, and delivers less all-out performance. The turbo limits usable torque to a narrow slice of real estate midway up the tachometer, and although it can be fun trying to keep the 124’s engine on boil by constantly working the buttery six-speed manual, the nonlinear power delivery makes this tricky. Where the Toyota 86 and the Miata are autocross darlings, the softer-handling Fiat is the roadster to buy if you prioritize sunny-day cruises over track events. The stiffer-sprung Abarth model is more of an eager little scamp, but standard versions of the Italian roadster respond to driver inputs in a duller, more relaxed fashion. Still, every 124 benefits from quick, feedback-rich steering and good body control.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the 124 Spider benefits from upgraded materials and finer detailing compared to the Miata, with more brightwork and fancy lateral seat ribs. Fiat also fits its own steering wheel, shift levers, and gauge faces. Standard 124 fare includes cloth seats, while Lusso models sport leather coverings, and Abarths have a mixture of faux suede and vinyl. Base-model 124 Spiders have manual climate controls, while Lusso and Abarth models gain automatic climate control and heated seats. Cabin space is tight, especially for drivers and passengers measuring more than six feet tall. The roof, when raised, arcs tight over the cabin, and the small rear window contributes to the interior’s confining nature. The Spider has a small trunk and barely any cabin storage for phones, knickknacks, and the like.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The base 124 Spider Classica ships with a non-touchscreen radio perched atop the dashboard in the place where a 7.0-inch touchscreen lives on the uplevel Lusso and Abarth. The Fiat runs the Mazda Connect infotainment software, which is a good thing, since the setup is straightforward and benefits from shortcut buttons for audio, navigation, and home menus, as well as a useful control knob. Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio input, and redundant steering-wheel audio and phone controls are standard on every 124 Spider, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.