A Fiat spokesman told Edmunds that pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date but noted that the two-seat convertible is intended to be "easily affordable and fun to drive."
Although the new 124 Spider shares its underpinnings with the Miata, Fiat chief Bob Broderdorf stressed that "all exterior panels are unique to the 124, as are the interior door panels and gauge cluster."
Broderdorf also noted that the transmission and final-drive gear ratios have been specially tailored to match the 124 Spider's torque characteristics.
That torque, 184 pound-feet of it, arrives via a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 160 horsepower and comes mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic is available as an option on the base Classica model and standard on the premium Lusso version.
In designing the new model, Fiat looked to the original 124 Spider, produced from 1966-'80, for inspiration.
According to Ralph Gilles, Fiat's global design chief, "the new 124 distills the very best qualities of the original, and we think the new model has all the elements to become an icon in its own right."
Styling touches taken from the original 124 include the low-slung overall proportions, the horizontal side character line, hexagonal upper grille, headlight "eyelids" and rear license plate surround framed by horizontal taillights.
The simplicity and undeniably Italian design of the interior are also reminiscent of the earlier Fiat 124. The cockpit is highlighted by a horizontal dashboard, three-gauge instrument cluster, soft premium materials, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an available 7-inch touchscreen to manage connectivity, information and entertainment functions.
The convertible top forgoes power activation in order to save weight and space, but Fiat points out that raising or lowering it is an easy one-handed operation.
Double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension combine with tailored electric power steering and rear-wheel drive to deliver what Fiat calls a spirited, dynamic driving experience.
Standard equipment on the base Classica model includes 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats, halogen headlights and LED taillights. The premium Lusso version adds such items as 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tips, foglights, heated leather seats, automatic climate control and extra interior trim touches, as well as a wider selection of exterior color choices.
Edmunds says: Sharing its underpinnings with the Miata was a good start for the 124. And from the looks of it, Fiat did a good job of finishing it off with a little Italian style. Expect a slightly higher price than the Miata when it hits showrooms next year.