Fiat 124 Spider

The 124 Spider comes with a peppy 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 160 hp. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. While 160 hp may not sound like a lot, the 124 Spider is incredibly light and acceleration should be plenty rapid. That lightness also pays dividends at the fuel pump. While fuel economy may not have been the top priority when the 124 was designed, the FIAT achieves ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Rather, the 124 Spider's philosophy seems to favor fun over just about any other factor. Rear-wheel drive makes interior packaging more difficult, but it does wonders for feel, handling and acceleration out of corners. A 6-speed manual may not be as easy to use as an automatic, but it does induce grins at a much higher rate.

Three trims are offered, Classica, Lusso and Abarth. Standard features across the entire range include push button start, power mirrors, LED brake lamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and air conditioning.

The Lusso trim costs about $2,500 more and adds a few more features to feel less spartan. 17-inch wheels, fog lamps and chrome exhaust tips jazz up the exterior, while stainless steel sill plates add a little style to the interior. Also included on the Lusso are rain-sensing wipers and a keyless entry system.

Costing under $1000 more than the Lusso, the Abarth is mainly a performance trim. It adds a mechanical limited slip differential, which keeps the Abarth from spinning up only one tire instead of two when exiting tight corners. The Abarth also gets a Bilstein suspension system which firms up the car and generally increases responsiveness. Styling wise, the Abarth gets a slightly meaner front fascia as well as black painted wheels.

A couple of notable option packages are available. A Premium Collection package includes a 9 speaker Bose sound system, adaptive front headlights, which swivel based on steering angle and acceleration, auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors, a blind spot detection system, a navigation system, LED headlamps, an alarm and SiriusXM satellite radio. A less-expensive Safety and Comfort Collection option package includes the nicer mirrors and sensor suite without the GPS, stereo and assorted luxury items from the Premium Collection. An automatic transmission is also available as an option across the entire range.

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Editors' First Take

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The 124 Spider is the newest compact convertible in the Italian automaker Fiat's lineup and the revival of a 50-year-old nameplate. But it's no secret that the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is, at its core, a fourth-generation Mazda Miata with some added Italian flair.

The two cars use the same unibody, set over the same wheelbase, with the same basic suspension geometry. Put the Fiat on a lift and peer beneath and you may even spot the Miata's signature powerplant frame connecting the gearbox to the rear differential and improving responsiveness and rigidity.

The similarities are so strong that the 124 earned the nickname "Fiata" shortly after its unveil at the 2015 Los Angeles auto show. I recently found myself behind the wheel of a Fiat 124 Spider Lusso in Rosso Passione (a very Italian shade of red) and set free to roam the hills around San Diego. But before Fiat tossed me the keys, the automaker went to great lengths to stress that this wasn't just a warmed-over Mazda and that I should expect a very different, very Italian driving experience.

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