2017 Fiat 124 Spider
Cars.com recently labeled the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider the “best new convertible.” That certainly is a bold statement, with little truth behind it. We had the privilege of test driving the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider, a Miata-inspired Fiat, rear wheel drive convertible, that features keyless entry, push button start, FIAT® Connect 7.0 with 7-Inch Full-Color Touchscreen Display, Heated Leather-Trimmed Seats, ParkView® Rear Back Up Camera, four-wheel independent suspension, near 50/50 weight distribution, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and a six-speed automatic transmission. This was all paired to a 1.4L turbocharged four cylinder engine with 160 HP and 184 lb-ft of torque. While it may sound like a good amount of power to be behind this little car, it felt like it lagged a bit at certain times. After driving the car for a day, I thought this could really use a turbo, only later to find out, it, in fact, has a turbo. The Fiat claimed 0-60 time in 6.8 secs for the 124 spider, which for something that only weighs 2,500 lbs and has a turbocharged engine paired with it, is pretty impressive. When starting to accelerate, the motor first feels like it will do something, but then quickly disappoints as it lowers in power curve and creates a turbo lag. The interior cabin road noise is pretty noticeable as well. I was surprised the cabin wasn’t dampened more, the noise got a bit annoying after awhile. The volume on the car radio had to be turned up in order to help drown out the road noise factor.
With those complaints aside, the 124 Spider was a fun car to drive. It definitely has a sports car feel and puts you in a sports car mood. The handling is excellent and the whole car has an enjoyable feel to it. My daughter loved it, primarily because there was no back seat, so she was able to ride in front. As previously mentioned, this model is Miata-inspired. Mazda did build the platform and Fiat provided the engine and styling. So yes, I would say this is a Fiat Miata. It has very nice styling. Italian design house, Pininfarina penned the original 124 Spider, and Fiat grabbed some of the styling elements from it for the new Spider. The shape of the headlight cutouts, the hood bulges, and the kink in the doors are all lifted straight from the Pininfarina’s design. Unless you have never spent any time in a Miata, the 124 Spider feels original, but Fiat did borrow a lot of styling from its twin. The indoor panels are very similar, yet slightly tweaked. The instrument panel has different fonts and colors to streamline it more with Fiat’s look.The infotainment is very Mazda like with the controllable dial in the center console. Fiat does have a thicker steering wheel and badge. Their 7” display was nice and easy to control. Nothing in this car really feels cheap. The convertible top is very easy to lower one handed, similar to the Miata, which makes the Fiat 124 Spider that much more fun to drive. Who doesn’t love the windblown feeling across their face at 70 mph? (Well, maybe not in Texas). We had the Lusso model of the 124, which is the mid-level model, featuring 17” wheels. There was a seven-inch touch screen display which worked well, and nice sporty leather seats that didn’t recline because the seats rest against the rear of the car.
When we circle back to the cars.com quote, do we agree that it’s the “best new convertible?” There are certainly a lot of options under 30k for other convertibles. I would probably opt for a new Mustang personally, but considering the convertible list for vehicles under $30k, I would agree, but add this: the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is the best new convertible, under $30k, but if you want more of a Miata feel, then just buy a Miata. While we would like to see a bit more power, especially out of a turbocharged engine, or at least a better power curve and sound dampening on the inside, the Fiat 124 Spider Lusso is a fun nicely styled car to own for under $28k. The base MSRP is $24,995.