The latest car from Italy the Fiat 124 Spider is nearly on our shores. A new two-seater roadster joint venture with Mazda starting at £19,545, interestingly priced at around £1,100 more than the MX-5 counterpart.
Both cars are built on the same chassis and wheelbase and share certain key components, however they are different cars both weighing in at under 1000kg. The first question though is which trim level will you choose Classica, Lusso or Lusso Plus. The Spider, this is all models of the 124 will come with air-con, keyless start, cruise control, a USB and Bluetooth connectivity infotainment system and modest 16in alloys as standard. Now if your interested in the Lusso trim, priced at £22,295, you get a 7in touchscreen infotainment unit with 6 speakers, dab receiver, reversing camera and sat nav - heated leather seats and if you want the Lusso Plus, you'll pay £23,295, and receive LED headlights and an upgraded 9 speaker BOSE infotainment system.
The model was also available as a 124 Spider Anniversary Edition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of the original 1966 Fiat Roadster, this model was £23,295, however has completely sold out. The 124 Spider first made an appearance at the 2015 LA Motor Show and earlier this year production was confirmed by Sergio Marchionne Fiat CEO. At first glance you can see the why the Spider echoes the Mazda MX-5. Even though the 124 is based on the Mazda sports car there are differences most noticeably the front-end, it has a longer bonnet than the MX-5 4th generation, this likens it more to the BMW Z4. The 124 has a pronounced jawline, hexagonal grille and subtle LED headlamps, at side glance you can clearly see MX-5 likenesses.
The back of this Italian roadster differs to the JDM if anything it hints inspiration from a Dodge Viper, Fiat says the design is defined by the cars 'seagull' wings that drop and the sharp horizontal rear lights those similar to the Fiat 500 supermini. Each model also has twin exhausts and a subtle rear spoiler – hinting at Fiat racing calibre. The Abarth 124 will easily be capable of 200bhp plus it will need to look somewhat more racy to make an impact and will likely have uprated suspension, wider wheels, bigger brakes - however look at Abarth in general they've never fallen short in the looks or performance mark.
The inside of the sports car reminds you of its main contender, dials, knobs etc are the same as the MX5 you'll find the same 7" infotainment system controlled by a media wheel similar to the Mercedes A Class mounted on the centre console. The 124's spiders hood is opened by hand and comes with no electric option. The Mazda is fitted with either a naturally-aspirated 1.5 or 2.0l engines, with 6 speed box capable of 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds with 129bhp. Fiat have opted to fit their own 500 Abarth1.4-litre turbo MultiAir petrol engine. The Spider is capable of 138bhp and 240Nm of torque putting it faster than the MX-5, the US are even getting a 160bhp version available in the UK? Well, that's TBC.
The Fiat 124 Spider is on sale early September in the UK. The 124 Spider is part of the joint venture agreement between Mazda and FIAT where both roadsters are to be made at Mazda’s factory in Hiroshima, Japan. Mazda and FIAT agreed the JDM sports car the MX-5 would launch first in 2015, with the 124 alternative releasing a year later.
A racing variant may be making an appearance - expect a more affordable, raw more Caterham style model with racing wheels and sensible powertrain, stripped out and rear-wheel-drive, watch this space.