I first got to experience Fiat’s 2018 124 Spider on a closed test track outside of Detroit. No cops, no traffic lights, and a very little rule of the road. This is the perfect setting for a small, peppy, convertible sports car where you can literally let your hair down and let it blow in the wind. I recently got to spend a week in the Spider in much more controlled conditions – speed limits, my local bumpy roads and humidity.
There are four versions are based on the Mazda Miata and starts with the Classica at $25,000. The line moves up through the Urbana, the Lusso and tops out with the Abarth (my test model) . The Abarth is powered by a 1.4L turbocharged engine with 164 horsepower. The other Spider models produce 160 horsepower. Power comes from the rear wheels and in some tests was found to reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds though I wasn’t able to have that much fun in my neighborhood streets.
The top-trimmed Abarth model begins at $28,225. It has a sport mode selector that switches easily and gives you the feeling of a little boost. It handled quite well aroudn corners and those bumpy roads thanks to the Bilstein performance suspension. A hot red car like this (actually “Rosseo Red”) needs to have sexy wheels. Check. A gunmetal finish adorns the 17″ rims. The quad-tipped chrome exhaust made a for mean yet clean look from the rear. Inside I thought the aluminum pedals added a great, sporty look and the leather-wrapped steering wheel felt good in my hands.
The 124 Spider begs to be driven with the top down when at all possible. Some climates will make this difficult year-round but the convertible top is easy and quick to fold. As a 6 foot-tall dude I found it a bit tough falling into the cabin that was a bit crampy. I was not particularly impressed with the infotainment system as it is borrowed from Mazda — not the most user-friendly system on the market. Yes it has some knobs (yay!) but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are nowhere to be found here.
I can see the 124 Spider being driven as a fun, weekend car. Certainly if you don’t have kids in tow. It’s nimble handling and the bright red shine on my test model kind of made me feel like Spider-Man. Even more so when I remembered all the vulnerabilities that Peter Parker carries with him.
Photos courtesy of FCA