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2019 Fiat 124 Spider

Starting at $26,935

Land vehicle, Vehicle, Car, Automotive design, Performance car, Sports car, Supercar, Personal luxury car, Luxury vehicle, Mid-size car,

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  • Highs Cool 1960s-inspired styling, nicer-than-Miata interior trim, stellar fuel economy.
  • Lows Turbo lag, doesn't handle as sharply as its Mazda twin.
  • Verdict A Mazda Miata by a different name: a Fiata.
By Drew Dorian


With its unique mix of Italian style and Japanese engineering, the Mazda MX-5 Miata–based Fiat 124 Spider is a sushi roll stuffed in cannelloni. It's more than a bunch of new badges, however, as the 124 Spider sports 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. Enthusiasts such as us will prefer the rowdier Abarth version with its more aggressive suspension and raspier exhaust note, but no matter which model you choose, the 124 Spider is no grocery getter, so plan accordingly.

What's New for 2019?

The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen and a federally required backup camera are now standard across the 124 Spider lineup, and the Technology Group package now includes SiriusXM satellite radio and keyless passive entry. Abarth models now come with a sport exhaust system and can be ordered with the Veleno Appearance Group package, which adds Abarth-branded floor mats, a metal-covered footrest for the left foot, and red mirror caps, tow hook, and front-bumper lip spoiler. Classica models offer optional racing stripes in two different styles–Double Rally stripe and Retro stripe–and can be ordered with a blacked-out Urbana appearance package.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

The pick of the 124 Spider range is still the rowdy Abarth version. You could add thousands of dollars in options, but you'll have the same driving enjoyment either way, thanks to the Abarth's more sporting attitude. Standard features include a six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, and a sport exhaust with four exhaust tips.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Likes: Italianesque exhaust note, slick six-speed manual, less punishing ride than rivals.
Dislikes: Difficult to keep engine in its powerband, laggy at low speeds, handling isn't as engaging as the Miata's.

All 124 Spider models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder making 160 horsepower in Classica and Lusso models and 164 horsepower in the Abarth. It can be fun trying to keep the 124's engine on boil by constantly working the buttery six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic is optional), but the nonlinear power delivery makes the task tricky. At least when kept in the middle of the range, the Fiat engine amuses with solid punch and a brassy exhaust note. At low engine speeds, the 1.4-liter has little to give, and its gusto wears off well before the tach needle hits redline.

Where the Toyota 86 and the MX-5 Miata are autocross and track-day darlings, the softer-handling Fiat is the small roadster to buy if you prioritize sunny-day cruises over track events. The stiffer-sprung Abarth model is more of an eager little scamp, and every 124 benefits from quick, feedback-rich steering and good body control when the road deviates from the straight and narrow. The 124 Spider rides decently for a small, flyweight roadster.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Seeing as it's lightweight and small—and powered by a tiny engine—it's no surprise that the Fiat earns sparkling fuel-economy estimates on the EPA's test cycle. In our real-world highway fuel-economy test, the 124 Spider with the manual transmission bested its highway EPA rating of 35 mpg with a 39-mpg result.

Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo

Likes: Driver-focused cabin, supportive seats, intuitive infotainment system.
Dislikes: Not enough differentiation from the Miata, tall folks might not fit, limited storage space.

Base-model 124 Spiders have manual climate controls, while Lusso and Abarth models gain automatic climate control and heated seats, but don't expect many other luxuries. Cabin space is tight, especially for drivers and passengers measuring more than six feet tall. The top, when raised, arcs tightly over the cabin, and the small rear window contributes to the interior's confining nature. At least when the soft top is folded behind the seats, as it should be as often as possible—remember, this is a roadster!—the sky's the limit on headroom.

All 124 Spiders ship with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Users can also operate the touchscreen via a center-console knob and its shares the infotainment software with the Miata. The setup is straightforward and benefits from shortcut buttons for audio, navigation, and home menus placed around the control knob. Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio input, and redundant steering-wheel audio and phone controls are standard, but the rest of the technology is rudimentary. Smartphone connectivity platforms such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't offered.

If you were holding out hope that the 124 Spider might swallow cargo better than it gulps two people, dash that optimism here and now. The Spider has a small trunk and barely any cabin storage for phones, knickknacks, and the like. We fit just one carry-on suitcase inside the Fiat's trunk.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested a 124 Spider, and driver-assistance features are extremely limited. Key safety features include:

  • Available blind-spot monitoring
  • Available rear cross-traffic alert
  • Available rear parking sensors

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Perhaps in an effort to dispel buyers' preconceived notions about the Fiat brand's checkered past when it comes to reliability, the 124 Spider comes with a better limited warranty and longer-term roadside assistance than the Miata.

  • Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

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