On the road: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider
On the road: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider
6:23

On the road: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider

Cars
[MUSIC] [SOUND] So everyone now knows that the 124 is basically a re-bodied re-engined Miata. Look at the body. This a homerun. They did Miata better than Mazda. This beautifully echoes the original Fiat 124 Spyder. Absolutely one of the most beautiful affordable cars ever made. And they did it in a way that's not going to date as badly as I fear the current Miata is going to with its little beady eyes. Needlessly angry face. This is a timeless, classy looking little ride. Overall, it's about five and a half inches longer than a Miata. Most of that [INAUDIBLE]. A little in the ramp. 95 pounds heavier as you might imagine. Otherwise, dimensions inside and in the underpinnings are the same. [MUSIC] Now, the cabin of the Miata, sorry, the 124 is very Miata. It's snug in here but it's a little more roomy than some of the earlier cars you may have driven back in the day. I fit but I don't fit for like a drive for five hours. You need to make some stops shall we say. Beyond that extremely Mazda. Fiat badge, that's about all they changed in terms of this whole area. You do have a little nicer trim all around the cabin. Very upscale kind of an Italian feel, but not dramatically different. This head unit you recognize, that's straight up Mazda stuff. You've got a nice array of entertainment sources that are generally modern. But notice there's no car player android auto because Mazda doesn't support that in this head unit and the Fiat Uconnect unit doesn't work in here. The seats are different as well. And I wanna call attention to those, notice that the back covers are kinda loose. It's almost like a sling you're sitting in. You're either gonna like this and think it's really cozy or like me you're gonna think it's really weird like getting a hug from behind from a weird uncle. After a while, I just wanted to get away from it. Improved audio's important in open-top cars. You need a little more muscle, a little more definition helps. And this guy, as you can see, had some speakers in the headrest right next to the Bose badge. And of course, being the nature of this car, storage is at a premium. One of the biggest things you'll miss though is no glovebox. You do instead have a storage bin back here that is supremely inconvenient. Even if you do turn your back this much, your arms don't reach in there. It's not human mechanically possible. Similarly putting this top down is a little bit acrobatic. You gotta make sure you have two good rotator cuffs, I only have one because I blew out the other one ironically on a 66 Fiat. Just like on the current Miata there is no power top option in this generation of car. Instead you've got a super simple mechanical linkage system that is a miracle of lightweight engineering. A lever on each end to make this thing go one way or the other. I think my phone weighs more than this. [SOUND] 124s don't share an engine with the Miata. They get Fiat's 1.4 liter Turbo 4 with multiair valve technology. As a result, the Fiat's got a little more horsepower, but it's got a lot more torque. Rear-wheel drive, of course. We have a six speed automatic, unfortunately. A six speed manual is available. [SOUND] Okay, driving this 124 Versus the Mazda it's based on has one key difference. You've got more oomph when you need it and with less having to go fetch it. That's what your turbo does for you. And that additional thirty some odd pound feet of torque. That's your big. Difference, you don't need to be running this guy in the high RPM range all the time which is good and bad. It means you've got extra umph when you need it in kind of a lazy hit the pedal way. It also means you're lacking some of that real lineararity and crispness of the Mazda power train. So to me this car is much less a crime to order with an automatic than the Miata. [SOUND] Now, by the way, the suspension is virtually identical on this guy as in the Miata. A little different in terms of some of the framing underneath the engine because it's a different engine. But beyond that, if you know the Miata ride you know this ride. And maybe Maybe, just maybe that extra hundred pounds with five more inches are giving it a little more of a modulated ride as well. One paddle shifters you've got to get the high clamps fourth version A bar, otherwise you're left moving this lever back and forth down here, which is, I don't know, kind of clunky for today's standards. Something else I love about being built on this platform, right there. You've got a nice low, by today's standards, door cell. You can drop your arm over the side and it's not like this. [INAUDIBLE] I didn't measure the foot wells but I have a lot more leg room on the driver's side than on the passenger side. I'm not sure what's going on down there but it's a more comfortable car for a tall driver than a tall passenger. This car is a joy to drive. Now if I could just get my creepy uncle back here from hugging me from behind. Now you can get into a 124 for as little as $26,000 delivered. This guy's the Lusso, the mid-level which I think the sweet spot is $28,500. But that's before we add the potential automatic transmission at $1,350. That's your call, but I bet you do want the premium package for $3,800 to get Bose audio, adaptive headlights, blind spot, cross traffic, GPS navigation, LED lights, parking sensors, and satellite radio. The steal on the sheet may be the [UNKNOWN] trim, the top of the line. For 700 bucks, you get a limited slip rear differential, Brembo brakes in the front, and another 4 horsepower. I think it's a pretty good bargain overall, though I like the look of the Luso better. In sum, the 124 should be a total hit of the same scale as the Miata. Rationally, that's the only conclusion you can come to expect for one problem. They're both fighting for the same market and it's a small one. And what the Miata brings to the fight is the legendary name plate from a totally trusted carmaker brand. The Fiat doesn't bring so much of either of those. Though I think its looks are absolutely superior. And we can argue about the engine. I'm a little nervous about this guy's prospects on the market as a result. More cars driven CNET style. Standing by now at CNETOnCars.com. Click on the road [BLANK_AUDIO]

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