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Fiat 124 Spider, UK Press launch


Fiat have a bit of history producing two-seater open top sports cars, the first being in 1899, the three and a half hp model. But some of the more memorable and notable from the recent past. Remember the X19 and from the mid-1990’s the Barchetta, that was only available as a left hand drive, although the nicest and probably most famous was the glorious 124 Spider that was built from 1966 to 1980, it was a huge success for Fiat with over 197,000 produced. Surprisingly there are around 5,300 still left on the roads in garages and museums around the world. So it seems appropriate that the 124 Spider name should be resurrected. But many Fiat traditionalists (that is if there are any still around, who care) will be annoyed or frustrated that this new car is in fact based on a recently launched Mazda MX-5 and built, not in Italy, but in Hiroshima, Japan, with the engines made at the Termoli plant in Italy and then shipped to Japan, but does it matter, does anyone care, it is after all the car you are buying and driving that matters, its quality and reliability are far more important than where it has been screwed together.

2016-Fiat-124-front.jpgI don’t really want to start comparing 124 with MX-5, but it is worth noting, for those who don’t know that the Mazda is powered by either a 1.5 or 2.0 petrol engine and that’s about it for comparisons with no more forthcoming, make your own minds up about design and styling.There is only one engine available in the 124, which is Fiats own 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo petrol engine that produces 140hp and accelerates from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 134mph, where permitted.

We set off from a hotel just on the English - Welsh border, and within a few minutes the road signs changed from English only to Welsh and English and we were on our way to Snowdonia with the roof down in late September sunshine. The 1.4-litre engine was so sweet, more than enough power and just a delight to drive. We took it on some twisty roads, with spectacular scenery both sides of the car and it behaved beautifully. It felt so solid and stuck to the road, as if it was on rails, it felt so safe and secure.

When we parked it at the coffee stop or in my case the tea stop, you got a good chance to have a really good look around it and see just how pretty it is, just how much Italian chic and style it has and you can see much resemblance to the original 124. The bonnet shape and contours are very similar, so too is the line that runs from front to rear and after all, this is in essence a Mazda MX-5 (sorry, said I wasn’t going to mention it again) – but it is so similar to the 1966 version, you have to wonder whether the Mazda designers took a piece of history and incorporated it into the design, if they did then congratulations, as it does work well. From every angle, the Spider looks splendid and does make you smile, it’s so cheeky and cute and the design works so well, from front to rear, it is bold and muscular, but also elegant and perfectly proportioned, so well done to the clever people in the Fiat Style Centre who have taken a classic in the MX-5, and Fiat-ised it.

2016-Fiat-124-interior.jpgThree trim levels are available: Classica £19,545.00 OTR Lusso £22,295.00 OTR and Lusso Plus £23,295.00 OTR, my choice without a doubt would be the Lusso, it has so much standard specification, including, leather, heated seats, auto-air-con, 7’’ infotainment system which also includes satellite navigation with 3D maps, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking camera, front fog lamps, keyless entry, chrome exhaust tips, leather trimmed steering wheel. This car looks good value and has everything you need.

The 1.4-litre engine is coupled to a very smooth 6-speed manual gearbox although we believe an automatic gearbox will be available during 2017.

The roof is easy to operate and whilst it is not electric, you can manually put it up or down in just a few seconds, even while sitting in your seat. This helps to reduce weight and complexity.

The interior is very Italian and has a nice touch, look and feel to it, including having soft touch plastic on the dash. The controls are easy to operate and are very intuitive. The down side to the cabin is the fact there is no glove box in front of the passenger or if there is one, I couldn’t find it. There is a small amount of stowage space on the rear panel, in between the driver and passenger.

You could use a lot of words to sum up the Fiat 124 Spider but if I had to pick just one, then it would be FUN!

Summary stats: 

On the road price £19,545.00 to £23,295.00
Petrol: 1.4 Multiair 140 PS
CO2 148 g/km
Combined MPG 44.1 MPG
Gearbox 6 Speed Manual

New options and features: 

3D Map Navigation  – Standard Lusso & Lusso Plus
Tri Coat Urban White Paint  – £750 option on all
Silver Windscreen Surround  – Standard Lusso & Lusso Plus
Adaptive front lighting system – Standard on Lusso Plus


Martin Ward

A popular figure in the automotive industry, celebrated in the Business Car Power list Top 10. An unrivalled understanding of the entire automotive manufacturing process. Providing independent and tailored advice to help automotive and related businesses identify and achieve their goals. @MartinW_cap_hpi

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