2017 FIAT 124 Spider Review
Pros & Cons
- Endlessly entertaining to pilot around tight turns
- Manual soft top is extremely easy to lower and raise
- Prices are very reasonable, even in the loaded versions
- Surprisingly comfortable ride on the highway
- Cabin is a tight fit for tall passengers
- Automatic transmission is sometimes slow to downshift
- Steering wheel shift paddles are only available on the Abarth.
- Technology interface isn't as user-friendly as some rivals
Edmunds' Expert Review
Although its horsepower and torque ratings are higher than the Miata's, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is heavier and therefore feels pretty similar in real-world driving. It's still a light car by any other measure, though, and it feels plenty quick and even a bit punchier at highway speeds than the Miata.
The manual transmission is excellent in everyday use, and the pedals are set up for effortless heel-and-toe shifting. The automatic transmission, however, isn't very responsive to your gas pedal inputs, so getting a downshift requires a fairly heavy foot on the pedal. The Abarth's exclusive "Sport" driving mode should sharpen the responses of the automatic. Enthusiasts should consider that version strongly, as it also adds suspension upgrades and a quad-tip exhaust that gives the engine a bit more character than the barely perceptible note with the standard exhaust.
You can have a lot of fun driving the Fiat 124, even at modest speeds.
Driving the Spider is a cinch. The precise steering and rear-drive layout give you plenty of confidence when entering a corner at high speeds. The compliant suspension dampens road imperfections and harsh impacts, making it suitable for extended highway stints. Also adding to its long-distance ability is the 124's increased amount of sound-dampening material compared to the Miata that makes the cabin noticeably quieter at highway speeds.
The Fiat 124 Spider's cabin is simply designed, but it never feels cheap. Soft-touch plastics cover the majority of the interior and feel good to the touch, especially when compared to the hard, body-colored plastic panels that adorn the perimeter of the Miata. The air-conditioning dials are simple and easy to use, as is the Mazda-sourced touchscreen that is the centerpiece for the dashboard. The interface's menus are intuitive and require little attention from the driver to operate successfully. Note that touchscreen functionality is locked while the vehicle is in motion. It is otherwise controlled by a knob located just below the shifter, which can get in the way if you are shifting your own gears.
We like the way Fiat has outfitted the 124's interior. The design is simple and trimmed in pleasing materials.
Given the Spider's compact footprint, it should come as no surprise that the cabin is fairly snug. As low-to-the-ground sports cars go, getting in and out isn't very difficult thanks to the narrow sills and shallow seat bolsters, but head- and legroom will be an issue for anyone over the 6-foot mark. Driver and passenger are likely to bump elbows, and the cabin feels especially cramped if the removable cupholders are secured in their slots at the rear of the center console. The seats themselves are very comfortable, and all seating materials feel high-quality.
The manual convertible top is so easy to use, you'll wonder why other two-seat roadsters use heavy power-operated ones. Simply unlatch the locking mechanism and throw the top over your shoulder. Practiced operators will be able to do it in just a few seconds without leaving the driver seat. Raising it is just as painless. Although the trunk is slightly larger than the Miata's, it measures at just 4.9 cubic feet, small even by roadster standards.