When Fiat decided to revive its famous 124 Spider nameplate last year, the company chose a partner known for making great modern roadsters: Mazda. Indeed, much of the 124 Spider's underlying structure comes courtesy of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. But the 124 is more than just a Mazda MX-5 in a costume. Fiat uses its own engine, transmission and suspension tuning, which in turn give the 124 Spider a distinct character all its own.
Like the Miata, the 124's diminutive figure is both part of its appeal and the cause of many of its shortcomings. Similarly, the small, turbocharged engine is likewise a distinctive trait with its own appeals and pitfalls: It's punchy and eager high in the rev range, but it's distinctly underpowered at low to medium rpm.
The Lusso and Classica express these traits very differently from the hot Abarth. The former are softer, and in some ways more relaxed, while the latter pairs exceptional handling with a ride that borders on harsh. Knowing what you want from the 124 Spider is important in choosing the right trim.
Other convertibles on the market come with fewer compromises. The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro convertibles offer more interior space, more usable trunks and back seats (small as they are), and they are available with significantly more power. The VW Beetle convertible and Mini Cooper convertible have small-car aesthetics and are easy to drive while asking for fewer sacrifices than the 124. But as generations of Miata owners (and owners of the old 124 Spider) will tell you, driving is more about the connection you feel with your car rather than how much you can fit in the trunk. And in that way, there's simply no substitute for the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider.
trim levels & features
The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider is available in three trim levels: the relatively bare-bones Classica, the more comprehensively equipped Lusso and the aggressive Abarth. All three trims are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It produces 160 horsepower in Classica and Lusso trims and 164 hp in the Abarth, and 184 pound-feet of torque in all three. Power goes to the rear wheels through either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
The Fiat's base Classica trim offers little more than the necessities. Buyers get 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, a manual tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and a four-speaker stereo system with a 3-inch display screen and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Pleasantly, the Classica also comes with keyless entry, pushbutton start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
One package is available for the Spider Classica: the Technology and SiriusXM Group package. This adds a rearview camera, proximity entry, rear parking sensors, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, voice controls, streaming music app integration, satellite radio and GPS capability. (GPS navigation is a separate dealer add-on.)
Moving up to the Lusso trim gets you 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic windshield wipers, a rearview camera, automatic climate control, and leather-upholstered and heated seats, along with the 7-inch infotainment system and all its features.
Fiat offers several packages for the Lusso. The Comfort and Convenience Group includes heated auto-dimming mirrors, rear parking sensors, a security alarm, universal garage door opener, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Opting for the Navigation and Sound Group adds navigation and a nine-speaker Bose stereo system. The Visibility Group adds turn-swiveling LED headlights and headlight washers.
There's also the Lusso Red Top Edition, which comes with a red convertible top, 17-inch wheels, Bose audio, the adaptive LED headlights and navigation.
The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth gets a performance-tuned suspension and a limited-slip differential, along with a driving mode selector with Sport and Normal modes, leather and microfiber-trimmed seats, and a handful of unique interior and exterior styling cues. The most notable option is the upgrade to Brembo brakes.
The Comfort and Convenience, Navigation and Sound, and Visibility packages are all available, as are Recaro seats.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso (turbo 1.4L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | RWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current 124 Spider has received some revisions to the distribution of options in its packages. Our findings remain applicable to this year's 124 Spider.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.