Caraganza First Drive Review 2018 Fiat 124 Spider: Second verse as good as the first

(FCA)

(FCA)

After being relaunched in the US last year after a 50-year absence, the Fiat 124 Spider changes little for 2018; and that’s a very good thing. That’s because the 124 Spider is a very good sports car; iconic, good looking, and fun to drive.

I had the chance to spend a week with the new 2017 Lusso last year, and I loved every minute of it.  Fiat sent me a 2018 Lusso for a recent week, and it was just as good as the first.

For 2018 there have been some color changes and you can now order individual options instead of having to purchase option groups.

Like last year, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider has three trim levels: Classica, Lusso and Abarth.

The base Classica has such standard features like LED taillights, AC, full power accessories, cruise control, push button starter, Bluetooth, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and shift knob, and a 3-inch display, all set atop 16-inch wheels.

The Lusso adds leather upholstery, heated seats, and keyless entry, a rearview camera a 7-inch touchscreen and an HD radio, along with automatic headlights, climate control, and automatic wipers on top of 17-inch wheels.

The top of the line Abarth adds some special exterior and interior trim pieces, quad exhaust tips connected to a slightly more open exhaust system that increases the horsepower to 164. The trim options include a flat black hood and trunk lid, and there are microfiber inserts for the seats.  In addition, there is a limited-slip rear differential, a sport-tuned suspension, and adjustable driving modes. Brembo brakes and full leather or leather/simulated suede upholstery are optional.

Among the options you can now purchase separately are the keyless door locks, rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen and an HD radio on the Classica, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors for the Lusso and Abarth.  Other options include LED adaptive headlights, LED running lights, a navigation system, and a satellite radio with a nine-speaker Bose audio system.

(FCA)

(FCA)

The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider is still powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 that produces 160 horsepower (164 for the Abarth) and 184 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, a six-speed automatic optional.

Unlike the 2017 I had last year the 2018 had the six-speed manual; a much more fun experience.  Fiat changed nothing on the exterior and that’s a very good thing. The Spider is quite a looker, it’s low slung with headlights and a front grill that harkens back to the original.

Yes, it’s still built alongside the Mazda Miata in Japan, yet other than sharing a wheelbase, and a convertible top that can be raised or lowered with one hand, this is not simply a Miata clone with a Fiat badge.

The 124 Spider still stands on its own; designed in Italy with a heritage that dates back over 50 years the 124 Spider will turn heads, elicit smiles behind the wheel and give the driving experience that only a rear wheel drive two-seat convertible roadster can.

The 2018 model then, changes very little from the relaunched 2017; of course, why change something that is pretty darn good in the first place? It’s a great looking iconic Italian sports car that’s fun to drive and affordable for most. Let’s hope it’s around for many years to come.

The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider

MSRP (Lusso): $27,495
MSRP (as tested): $31,380
Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged 160 hp @5500 rpm, 184 lb-ft torque @3200 rpm
Transmission (as tested): 6-speed automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 25 city, 35 highway, 30 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions ): 28 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 2476

Exterior Dimensions (In)
Wheelbase: 90.9
Length, Overall: 159.6
Width, Max w/o mirrors: 68.5
Height, Overall: 48.5
Track Width, Front: 58.9
Track Width, Rear: 59.1

Interior Dimensions (In)
Seating Capacity — Front 2
Head Room 37.4
Legroom 43.1
Shoulder Room 52.1
Hip Room 52.0
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume: 4.9

Warranty
Basic: 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion: 12 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 4 Years/Unlimited Miles

All specs can be found here (PDF)

 

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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