Aug
18
2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso in Grigio Moda Meteor Grey

Quick Spin2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

Class: Sporty/Performance Car

Miles driven: 280

Fuel used: 9.4 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 29.7 mpg

Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway

CG Report Card
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Room and ComfortC
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishA-
Fuel EconomyB
ValueB+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyF
Tall GuyD

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 26/35/30 (city, highway, combined)

Base price: $27,495 (not including $995 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Customer Preferred Package 21 S ($1495; adds blind-spot and cross-path detection, rear park-assist system, heated exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view and exterior mirrors, and universal garage-door opener)

Price as tested: $29,985

 

Quick Hits

The great: Handling, shift feel, fuel economy

The good: Acceleration, easy-to-use manual convertible top

The not so good: Control layout, highway noise, interior and cargo storage space

More Fiat 124 price and availability information

 

CG Says:

As covered in our previous review of the base 124 Spider Classica, Fiat’s resurrected sports car differs from the Mazda MX-5 Miata on which it’s based both in appearance (every body panel is unique) and powerplant. In terms of the former, the 124 carries more “classic” sport-car lines that mimic those of its namesake from decades earlier, while the MX-5 wears swoopier sheetmetal that adheres to Mazda’s current styling direction. Note that only the Mazda, however, offers a model with a retractable targa roof, newly standard on its RF version.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

The new 124 Spider’s styling recalls the design cues of the original 1966-1980 Fiat 124 Spider. Exterior elements added in the Lusso trim level are 17-inch wheels (vs. 16s), bright exhaust tips, and silver-colored windshield and roll-bar trim.

Under the hood, the Fiat comes with the company’s turbocharged 1.4-liter four in place of the Mazda’s normally aspirated 2.0-liter, with the turbo boasting five more horsepower (nine more in the top-line Abarth) and 16 more lb. ft. of torque. Partially countering that is about 104 lb. greater curb weight (2436 vs. 2332). Do the math, and you’ll find that the MX-5 has a slightly better horsepower-to-weight ratio of 15.045 lb/hp vs. 15.22, but the 124 has an advantage in torque-to-weight ratio of 13.24 lb/lb.ft. vs 15.76.

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

Functional differences between the Fiat 124 Spider and the “donor” Mazda MX-5 Miata are shown here: The Fiat has a slightly larger trunk (due to added length behind the rear wheels), and its turbocharged engine produces a bit more power.

Numbers aside, the driving experience is a bit different between the two cars. It’s clear that spurring the Fiat results in a bit more low-end grunt. But delivery of power is not quite as linear, and the little turbo can be caught flat-footed if you dip into the throttle at low engine speeds; for instance, it really doesn’t like rolling stop signs in 2nd gear.

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Part of the 124’s weight gain is likely due to the car being 5.5 inches longer, most added behind the rear wheels. That results in a slightly larger trunk, with the Fiat offering 4.94 cu. ft. of space vs. the Mazda’s 4.59. That doesn’t sound like much, but it does work out to almost eight percent more capacity, which might come in handy on a weekend trip.

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

Less different are the 124 Spider and MX-5 interiors, with the Fiat’s differing only in minor trim variations.

Compared to the base Classica, the mid-line Lusso tested adds $2500 in cost, but gives you heated leather seats, 17-inch wheels (vs. 16s), rain-sensing wipers, keyless access and starting, fog lights, automatic headlights, silver windshield and roll-bar trim, and bright exhaust tips in return. It also makes available some option packages not offered on the Classica, which can bring adaptive headlights with automatic leveling, heated auto-dimming outside mirrors, and auto-dimming inside mirror.

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As with the Mazda MX-5, we really love the 124’s manually folding soft top, which (with a little strength and practice) can be raised or lowered while seated. We also like the overall driving sensation, which is as close to that of a traditional sports car as can be had at anywhere near this price.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

The 124 Spider’s easy-to-use manual ragtop is a real strong point. With a bit of practice, going from top up to top down can be accomplished in about three seconds — without even getting out of your seat.

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