While its origins are rooted in the Japanese Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider has all the style and soul expected of an Italian sports car bearing the storied 124 badge. Equipped with a Fiat-designed turbocharged engine and subtly reworked interior, the Fiat 124 Spider has a more sumptuous, inviting feel than the hard-edged Miata.
You'll Like The 2018 FIAT 124 Spider If...
If you’re seeking a distinctive open-air sports car with a decidedly European flair, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider offers plenty of Italian style and comfort and at an affordable price. The turbocharged engine gives it a different feel than the Miata upon which it’s based, as does a reworked cabin.
You May Not Like The 2018 FIAT 124 Spider If...
If you’re a driving purist, the lighter, more nimble Mazda MX-5 Miata trumps the Fiat 124 Spider every time. The Fiat’s 160 horsepower is nice, but not nearly as powerful as some rivals. Long-legged drivers will find the 124 Spider’s interior comes up short in the legroom department.
For 2018, the Fiat 124 Spider gains a new Red Top Edition, while the Lusso and Abarth trims see their option list reconfigured to allow customers better access to the exact features they want.
The base 2018 Fiat 124 Spider isn’t much different from its MX-5 counterpart, but moving to the Lusso trim brings a number of upgrades including leather seats, piano-black accents and Leatherette trim. The Spider’s cabin is snug, with tight-fitting seats and limited legroom, even on the passenger side. The seats sit low causing one’s legs to remain in a constant outstretched position that can quickly become tiring. Headroom with the top up is surprisingly generous although taller drivers may still find themselves at eye level with the windshield’s top edge. The absence of a telescopic steering wheel seems a glaring omission.
The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider has been meticulously sculpted to recall the classic 124 Spider of the 1960s. To achieve that look Fiat’s design team overlaid thoroughly massaged bodywork, square taillights and round headlights onto the Spider’s Mazda-derived platform, culminating in a 4-inch-longer roadster. Helping drive home the Spider’s Italian heritage are outrageously Italian paint names including Bianco Gelato (white) and Rosso Passione (red). Drivers who relish visual aggression will find plenty of it in the 124 Spider Abarth, whose unique fascias, 17-inch gunmetal wheels, and optional $1,995 black-painted hood and trunk make it look positively furious.
Among cars, weight is the enemy of performance and fun; and yet, despite weighing roughly 100 pounds more than the svelte Mazda Miata on which it’s based, the Fiat 124 Spider remains utterly fulfilling to drive. Light steering efforts give the Fiat Spider a relaxed feel well-suited for enchanting jaunts over the hills and past the sea. Quicken the pace and Fiat’s roadster reveals itself as a playful dance partner. Integral to the Spider’s distinctive character is a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that produces more power than the Mazda Miata’s naturally aspirated engine. Extra power is great but the turbo’s lag-and-surge power delivery makes us pine for the precise throttle of the Miata. With the Spider’s top down, airflow around the cabin is well-controlled, ever so slightly tousling the driver’s hair. Raise the top and interior noise is hushed enough for comfortable conversations and commutes.
View the Fiat 124 Spider as a fancied-up Mazda Miata and you might expect a premium price but that’s not the case. A manual-equipped Spider Classica glides in with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,990 including destination; just $290 higher than a base Miata. Meanwhile, the $28,590 Lusso trim offers leather seating at a much lower price than the Miata Grand Touring, while the performance-focused Spider Abarth slightly undercuts the similar Miata Club trim. If seating for more than two sounds like a good idea, both the Mini Cooper Convertible and Volkswagen Beetle Convertible can be had for just under $27,000 and $28,000, respectively. Before you buy, be sure to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the Fiat 124 Spider in your area. It’s also worth noting that resale values for the Fiat brand have historically skewed lower than average, which could affect the 124 Spider’s long-term cost to own.
Nab a basic 124 Spider Classica and you’ll enjoy push-button engine start, cloth seats, 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, a 4-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, and four airbags. The Lusso trim adds 17-inch wheels, heated leather-trimmed seats, Leatherette dash trim, automatic climate control and keyless vehicle access. Despite being the raciest Spider in the lineup the Abarth trim only produces four horsepower more than the Classica and Lusso, but it does include a sport suspension, limited-slip differential and charmingly aggressive exterior tweaks. Missing from all trims is a spare tire. The included tire-repair kit helps maximize trunk space.
Optional on the least expensive Classica trim is the Technology and SiriusXM Group that adds the 7-inch infotainment screen, rearview camera, SiriusXM and keyless vehicle access. Go with the more expensive Lusso or Abarth trims and you’re free to select handy add-ons like rear parking sensors, navigation, adaptive headlights, rear cross-path detection, blind-spot warning, and a 9-speaker Bose audio system with a sub-woofer and speakers in the headrests. Reserved for Abarth buyers are optional Recaro seats shod in leather and Alcantara or high-performance Brembo brakes. The Red Top Edition adds adaptive LED headlights, navigation, Bose audio and a Bordeaux Red cloth top.
The brilliance behind the Fiat 124 Spider’s manual top is that it doesn’t need a power option. So balanced is the design that the top can be dropped or raised with just one hand, all while sitting in the driver’s seat.
Apparently the Italians found the Miata’s interior a bit too loud, so they softened the noise levels by adding additional sound insulation, thicker side glass and an acoustic windshield. The results are evident once the car reaches highway speed, making it the wiser choice for long-distance jaunts.
Under the Hood
The biggest difference between the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider and its Mazda twin can be found under the hood. Instead of borrowing the MX-5’s engine, Fiat engineered its own 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir 4-cylinder powerplant. In its first use with a rear-drive platform, the Fiat engine delivers more horsepower than the Mazda’s, but more important, more torque. Power is routed to the wheels via a standard 6-speed manual; however, for an additional $1,350 owners can opt for a 6-speed automatic. With a wonderfully short shifter and the ability to slip the clutch, enabling much quicker off-the-line acceleration than the automatic, we definitely prefer the manual gearbox.
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (164 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm in Abarth)
184 lb-ft of torque @ 3,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (manual), 25/36 mpg (automatic)
While its origins are rooted in the Japanese Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider exudes all the style and soul expected of an Italian sports car bearing the storied 124 badge. Equipped with a Fiat-designed turbocharged engine and subtly reworked interior, the Fiat 124 Spider has a more sumptuous, inviting feel than the hard-edged Miata. That feeling extends to the areas of ride comfort, cabin quietness and overall interior quality. For lovers of open-air motoring, Fiat has created a stunning small convertible that handles as well as it looks, offering pricing in line with the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mini Cooper Convertible and VW Beetle, but with an attitude more akin to a pricey Audi TT or Porsche Boxster.