Pay no courtesy to a Miata behind a curtain! Yes, Fiat’s newly resurrected 124 Spider, initial seen proceed behind in 1966, is mostly formed on Mazda’s immensely renouned two-seat automobile — and it’s built in Japan right alongside a Miata regulating mostly Mazda parts. But after spending a week behind a circle of a sportiest member of a 124 lineup, a Abarth edition, it’s clear that — for improved and for worse — a new 124 Spider is a clearly opposite appurtenance from a Japanese progenitor.
Surprisingly, given Italy’s storied affinity for alluring curves, a Mazda is a some-more seductive of a two. Whereas a Miata is all soothing contours and peaceful swells of sheetmetal, a 124 Spider adds a pointy double in a belt line and twin scallops in a hood (the etched lines make for a complicated turn on a likewise done hood “bumps” seen on after versions of a original). The Fiat’s face is also some-more in-your-face, with incomparable headlamps and, on a Abarth edition, lots of additional black grillework. To contend a new 124 Spider resembles a strange (sold in several forms by Fiat and Pininfarina for scarcely dual decades) would be a stretch, yet a pattern achieves a idea of masking a Miata roots while charity a decidedly opposite extraneous flavor. Unique Abarth facilities embody 17-inch “gun-metallic” amalgamate wheels, quad discriminating empty tips, a front haze lamps.
The Mazda and a Fiat are extremely some-more comparison inside, with mostly teenager revisions (different change knobs, thicker doorway padding, and shinier surfaces in a 124) imprinting differently equally purify and fit cockpits. My exam car, during $29,190, had not a singular choice on it, yet enclosed exhilarated seats, involuntary meridian control, steering-wheel audio controls, and a leather-wrapped primer shifter. Controlling such facilities as a four-speaker audio complement and Bluetooth phone hookup is achieved around a rotary doorknob on a core console and a few surrounding buttons. It’s an discerning complement to use, and we had no difficulty scrolling by a displays on a executive 7-inch tone arrangement yet carrying to demeanour down during a rotary controller. Overall, a cabin a ample and pleasing for dual — yet I’m not gonna lie: removing and out of a low-slung Spider is like perplexing to distortion down on a skateboard. Said one newcomer after finally contorting his support down into a chair beside me: “Ugh. I’m not certain I’d wanna do that each day.”
It’s in a pulling knowledge where a Mazda and a Fiat grow distant apart. Unlike a Miata’s twin-cam, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4 (which creates 155 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque), a 124 uses a Fiat-sourced “MultiAir” single-cam, 1.4-liter section increased by an intercooled turbo. Whereas a Miata’s indent is snappy, rev-happy, sparkling to a tympanic membranes, a Fiat’s is pale and torque-dependent, pulling a automobile brazen with 184 pound-feet of low-rpm grunt rather than revs. Thanks to a competition exhaust, a Abarth book gets an additional 4 horsepower (to 164) over other 124 variants — not that you’d feel many of a difference.
The 124’s torque advantage over a Miata is some-more of a “thing” on paper. In a genuine world, a turbo needs a few beats to bobbin adult and torque doesn’t rise until 3,200 rpm, so creation a many of a accessible muscle means prudent use of a six-speed primer gearbox and staying on tip of a boost. Even then, though, a Miata only sounds improved when you’re hustling, and it’s distant happier during a tip reaches of a tach. The 124 is a some-more loose cruiser, however, burbling along a highway yet a Mazda’s some-more celebrated drone.
The Abarth book with a primer gets a limited-slip back diff, and in a widen of my favorite twisties around Malibu, we found a Spider’s framework copiousness playful. Frankly, it borders on being too unbending — you’ll courage your teeth over damaged cement — and it’s arguably not as many fun as a Miata, that tends to heel over some-more during a g army build, providing some-more of a prodigy of hustling hard. But a Fiat is impressively neutral impending a limit; we can’t remember another automobile underneath $30K with so small understeer. Which is to say, Fiat substantially done a right call here, charity an choice “feel” on a framework already so astutely bred it would’ve been tough to make it “better.” If we cite a go-kart approach, a 124 is your ride.
Ultimately, a 124 Spider Abarth departs adequate from a Miata underpinnings to mount as a “own” vehicle. Buyers cross-shopping a dual could good confirm formed quite on their affinity for one pattern over a other. Or maybe you’d rather journey with a Fiat’s bloat of turbo torque underfoot than worry revving-out a Mazda’s naturally aspirated 4 to grasp a identical pace. There’s also that celebrated disproportion in doing feel that competence lean we toward one of a two. But in starting with a bottom as good as Mazda’s MX-5 Miata, Fiat couldn’t go wrong. More than a few onlookers, eying my exam automobile during stoplights or when parked, remarked, “Fiat 124? They’re still creation those?”
To that we was happy to reply, “They are now.”