Fiat 124 Spider (2016-present)

A stylish, appealing two-seat convertible sports car, the 124 Spider has much going for it

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Stylish looking
Great on twisty B roads
Simple trim choices

Weaknesses 

Very firm ride
Not as good as MX-5
Fiat build-quality may let it down
Best New Discount

Fiat 124 Spider Convertible Special Editions (2016-2016) 1.4 multiair s-design 2dr

Total RRP £26,900

Your quote £21,550

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Buying a car is increasingly confusing when so many models share so many components underneath the bodywork.

Should you buy a Fiat 124 Spider, or a Mazda MX-5, which is essentially the same car underneath? Or go for a Mini Convertible or Audi TT Roadster?

The Fiat has a lot going for it, especially in the looks department.

An Italian convertible sports car will always generate high expectations and the 124 Spider doesn’t disappoint. That long nose, rear-seat cabin and short boot is a classic look and Fiat’s designers have done a good job of mixing in a helping of Italianate styling and a dollop of modernity.

The cabin has more of Mazda’s influence – especially in the dashboard layout and switchgear – but there are still enough European touches to give the Fiat its own identity (the tan leather seats in Lusso and Lusso Plus trim cars look particularly cool).

The entertainment system is taken from the Mazda and is somewhat basic, more akin to an aftermarket unit than the best integrated manufacturer examples.

One major drawback is the available height to the occupants, especially the driver. The seat feels a little high set, so anyone over average male height (5ft 9ins) will find their head touching the fabric roof. It's fine when the roof – which is brilliantly simple to lower and raise manually – is down, but the unpredictability of British weather, and regular occurrence of precipitation, in one form or another, means that top-down driving isn’t always a given.

And while we’re on the subject of practicality – admittedly, not something that one should primarily judge a convertible sports car on – the 140-litre boot is a bit snug, so you’ll struggle to get too much in there, although we did manage to get a decent-sized family shop in it.

What you should judge a drop-top sports car on is how it behaves on the road, and the 124 Spider is fun to drive. The 1.4-litre engine offers enough performance, the steering is sharp and accurate, it handles well and the ride isn’t too bad. Fiat’s engineers have tweaked the driving characteristics of the MX-5 (which the 124 is based on), but it's not entirely successful: the MX-5 handles and rides better, is more engaging to drive and the gearbox is a lot easier to use.

The 124 Spider is a good car, but it would perhaps feel better if the MX-5 didn’t exist. There’s not a huge difference between the two cars, but in most of the meaningful points of comparison, the MX-5 comes out on top.

But if that Italian styling is what grabs you, and you want something that is more of a cruiser than an out-and-out sports car, the 124 Spider will be what you want to spend your money on.

Last Updated 

Monday, June 4, 2018 - 11:15

Key facts 

Warranty : 
Three years/unlimited mileage
Boot size: 
140 litres
Width: 
1,740mm
Length: 
4,054mm
Height: 
1,233mm
Tax (min to max): 
£200 in the first year, £140 thereafter

Best Fiat 124 Spider for... 

Fiat 124 Spider MultiAir Turbo 140hp
As there is just the one engine option, we can wholeheartedly endorse it as the best performing, most economical version of the 124 Spider, managing 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and returning 44.1mpg.

Fiat 124 Spider History 

  • November 2015: The Fiat 124 Spider is officially unveiled to the public at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
  • March 2016: goes on display in Europe for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show.
  • September 2016: goes on sale in the UK.

Understanding Fiat 124 Spider car names 

  • 124 Spider
  • Trim level
    Lusso Plus
  • Engine
    MultiAir Turbo 140hp
  • Gearbox
    Auto
  • Trim level
    Buyers can choose between three trim levels, ranging from the base Classica, through Lusso to the range-topping Lusso Plus. As you pay more money for a more expensive trim, the amount of standard equipment increases.

  • Engine
    There’s just one engine available with the 124 Spider, a 140PS 1.4-litre turbocharged unit.
  • Gearbox
    There’s a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, the latter only available with the Lusso Plus trim.

Fiat 124 Spider Engines 

1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140hp

The engine choice for buyers of the 124 Spider is easy: there is no choice. All models come fitted with a turbocharged 1.4-litre Fiat petrol engine that produces 140PS.

It’s a good little engine and despite its apparent lack of size or power, performs well enough on the road. The 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds isn’t scorching hot, but it’s enough to match a warm hatch and the acceleration does feel quick enough in most circumstances – and especially from a standing start. The power is also available from around 2,000rpm and it’s usable right through the rev range to 5,000rpm.

And, for a convertible sports car, the official fuel consumption figure isn’t too punishing, with 44.1mpg suggesting that this isn’t a sports car that will have you reaching too often for your wallet. CO2 emissions are 148g/km, but with the new tax regime, that isn’t as important as it used to be, so after the first year, you’re paying the same as everyone else.

The one caveat is the six-speed manual gearbox (an auto is also available), which even after the 7,000 miles on our test car, was starting to feel a bit sticky when downshifting between second and first gears. It also doesn’t feel as involving as the gearbox in the Mazda MX-5 – although, in fairness, that transmission is one of the best on an affordable car anywhere.

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140hp

Petrol

44.1mpg

140hp

7.5s

134mph

1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140hp Auto

Petrol

42.8mpg

140hp

7.6s

133mph

Fiat 124 Spider Trims 

Classica, Lusso, Lusso Plus, Anniversary, S-Design

The base Classica trim levels offers standard features that include 16” alloy wheels, LED rear lights, electrically adjustable body coloured door mirrors, leather steering wheel with audio controls, leather gear knob, 3” infotainment display, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and Aux-in, cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, keyless go, remote central locking, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

For an additional £2,750, buyers of the Lusso model receive, in addition, a navigation system with 3D maps, Parkview rear parking camera, rear parking sensors, fog lights, 17” alloy wheels, leather heated seats, leather steering wheel with audio controls, 7” touchscreen with multimedia control knob, DAB radio, WiFi connectivity, 2 USB ports and Aux-in, automatic climate control and keyless entry.

The Lusso Plus trim, an extra £1,000, adds LED headlights and daytime running lights, adaptive headlights, rain and dusk sensors, and a Bose audio system with nine speakers (including four integrated in the headrest).

S-Design is the latest trim spec out. This is much the same as Lusso Plus in terms of technology, however, there are a fair few differences on the outside. Primarily, chrome alloys, and a red racing stripe running along the sill.

At launch, there were also 124 examples of the limited-edition Anniversary trim, costing the same as the Lusso Plus, but also adding a 124 Spider badge on the front grille, an Anniversary edition numbered plate,  and Premium Silver mirror covers.

Fiat 124 Spider Reliability and warranty 

Without beating about the bush, Fiat doesn’t exactly have a great reputation when it comes to reliability, coming 24th in the table of most reliable manufacturers in the most recent Driver Power survey.

The 124 Spider is too new to appear in the most recent Driver Power survey, but the one ray of hope for buyers is that it shares much of its mechanical parts with the Mazda MX-5. The Japanese carmaker has a good reputation for building solid, dependable, cars with the MX-5 coming 41st overall and 17th for reliability in the most recent Driver Power survey. The main point of difference between the two cars is the engine, with Fiat fitting its own one in the 124 Spider.

The warranty is a three-year/unlimited mileage one, which is about average for the industry (the MX-5’s is limited to 60,000 miles).

Used Fiat 124 Spider 

Now that the Fiat 124 Spider has been on sale in the UK since September 2016, it means that there are plenty popping up on the used market.

Pre-registered mid-spec Lusso models are currently available on BuyaCar with a discount of £2,795. And 2016 model cars can be bought from £15,500 - a helpful £6,795 discount.