|The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso.|
That's why I came thisclose to buying a 1979 Fiat Spider brand new. And why the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider speaks so strongly to me now.
|2017 Fiat 124 Spider and 1967 Fiat Spider.|
In bringing back its 1960s and 70s halo car, Fiat wisely chose to take another company's fully-baked product, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and make styling changes to make it resemble the original Spider. Those of us who think the current Miata's styling a bit too blunt and cartoonish will appreciate the Fiat 124 Spider's sense of proportion (it's five and a half inches longer than the Miata) and flowing lines.
|2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso.|
While we've raved for many years about the overall goodness of the MX-5 Miata, Fiat didn't stop with the styling. They got into the mechanicals, too. The springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are unique to the 124 Spider. And, perhaps more worrisome for those of us old enough to remember "Fix It Again, Tony", the engine is a Fiat powerplant...the 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo four. Yes, it makes five more horsepower than the Miata's non-turbo 2.0-liter four, but the Spider is also 193 pounds heavier than the Miata. Gas mileage differs a bit from the Miata (25 city/36 highway for the Fiat, 27/34 for the Mazda).
The good news is that overall build quality is excellent. Both cars come off the same Mazda assembly line in Hiroshima, Japan.
|2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso interior.|
Our tester was the Lusso. $27,495 gets you a rear backup camera, remote keyless entry, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, enhanced accident response system, electronic stability control, speed control, the touring suspension, a four-speaker AM/FM/Bluetooth audio system with a seven-inch display, air conditioning with automatic temperature control, heated front seats, a leahter-wrapped steering wheel, soft touch upper instrument panel and wrapped lower instrument panel (in saddle color, it's gorgeous), piano black interior accents, 17-inch premium silver aluminium wheels, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, power mirrors, LED taillamps, and a dual exhaust with bright tips.
Ours had options as well...$3,795 for the Premium Collection (an upgraded nine-speaker Bose audio system with HD Radio, blind spot and cross-path detection, rear parking assist, navigation, LED adaptive and auto-leveling headlamps with washers, heated exterior mirrors which dim automatically, a universal garage door opener, and a security alarm); and $1,350 for a six-speed automatic transmission. With $995 destination charge, the bottom line was $33,635....or, as the Phoenix bureau pointed out in a review of a different car a few days ago, roughly the cost of the average new car these days.
If it weren't the stormiest week in Northern California in a decade, I'd be writing about how delightful the Fiat is to drive on a winding two-lane road. Smoother than the Miata. Less edgy. Frankly, I could be perfectly happy with a Fiat 124 Spider Lusso. I'd be a minute later everywhere I went because I'd pause and look at it getting in and getting out, but I could live with that. But call me supersitious---I'd breathe a lot easier if it had the Mazda engine under the hood.