Fiat 124 Spider: prices, specs and release date
The complete lowdown on the Fiat 124 Spider and Abarth 124 Spider
Broadening the choice of small convertibles for UK motorists, the Fiat 124 Spider is now in dealerships priced from £19,545, with the sportier £29,565 Abarth 124 Spider having its own special appeal, too.
Both are roadsters with seating for two and retro styling inspired by the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, which was sold in the UK between 1966 and 1975. The classical lines don’t mean old-fashioned technology, though – the 124 Spider uses thoroughly modern engines and was developed in conjunction with Mazda as a sister car to the Mazda MX-5.
An example of the close relationship the Abarth and Fiat 124 Spider have with the MX-5 is that they all use the same interior design, which doesn’t quite have the same charismatic charm that makes the outside so eye-catching. Passengers will find a shortage of storage space for odds and ends, too, but the materials used are of a high standard, while build quality is excellent, too.
The convertible roof of the 124 Spider is a traditional folding fabric affair, but Fiat and Mazda tell us that it uses insulating material that’s designed to reduce wind and road noise when the roof is up. A manually-operated fabric roof was chosen because of its light weight, while its ability to fold into a small space means that less space is sacrificed in the boot than a folding hard-top would have required.
Fiat 124 Spider engines, drive & performance
The biggest differences between the Fiat, Abarth and Mazda versions of this car are under the bonnet. While the Mazda offers a choice of 1.5 and 2.0-litre non-turbocharged engines, the Fiat and Abarth both use turbocharged petrols.
These are more powerful than those in the Mazda, with the entry-level Fiat 124 Spider using a 1.4-litre turbo that produces 138bhp. This is enough to send the roadster from 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds with a 134mph top speed if you find yourself somewhere safe and legal to do so. Fiat has claimed the car’s average fuel economy to be 44.1mpg, while CO2 emissions of 148g/km will mean a £145 annual road-tax bill if you buy the car before the tax bands are altered in April 2017.
The 124 Spider uses a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive to put its power to the road, with the car’s weight distribution arranged in such a manner as to improve handling balance for enjoyment and safety.
The Abarth 124 Spider is a more powerful model for real driving enthusiasts. It uses the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, but in this case it produces 168bhp. That’s enough to cut the 0-62mph time to 6.8 seconds and increase top speed to 148mph. Impressively, CO2 emissions and fuel economy are unchanged.
If you’re looking for a roadster with an automatic gearbox, the Abarth is the only 124 model that’s offered as an automatic, costing an extra £2,040 than the manual car.
With the Fiat 124 Spider already offering as much driving fun as the Mazda MX-5, the Abarth version adds even more excitement. The lightweight chassis and suspension are both upgraded and a limited-slip differential is added, optimising rear-wheel grip when the car accelerates quickly.
The Fiat 124 Spider range begins with the £19,545 Fiat 124 Spider Classic. It’s pretty well equipped, with an MP3-compatible infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB link, cruise control, air-conditioning and a smart set of 16-inch alloy wheels. Options include a seven-inch touchscreen display that adds a wi-fi connection, DAB radio and an extra USB port to the stereo at a cost of £500.
The next model up is the Fiat 124 Spider Lusso, which costs £22,295. Additional features over the Classic include a rear parking camera and sat nav, keyless entry, automatic climate control and heated leather seats. Upgrading to the Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Plus costs an additional £1,000 and brings a BOSE stereo with nine speakers, automatic wipers, LED headlights incorporating daytime running lights.
A special Fiat 124 Spider Anniversary Edition was available when the 124 Spider first went on sale, but all 124 of these high-specification limited-edition cars have now been sold, so you’ll have to scour the classifieds to see if any are being sold used.
The Abarth 124 Spider is distinguished by styling with a more muscular edge, while a two-tone colour scheme including a matte-finish bonnet and bootlid can be chosen. This is a nod to the exterior finish seen on Abarth rally cars of the 1970s.
The Abarth is no stripped-out racer, though, enjoying climate control, a seven-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system and cruise control, with BOSE stereo speakers and sat nav available as options.
Every 124 Spider has a long list of standard safety equipment which includes a rollover protection system and an ‘active’ bonnet that’ll pop up to protect pedestrians from injuries during an impact.
Prices & release date
The Fiat 124 and Abarth Spider are both on sale in the UK now. The 124 Spider costs between £19,545 and £23,295, while the Abarth with a manual gearbox costs £29,565, or £31,605 if chosen as an automatic.