Fiat 124 Spider Convertible
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Review Of The Fiat 124 Spider Convertible
The new two-seater Fiat 124 Spider Convertible looks like something from the golden age of Italian drop-tops, which will suit the purists. However, it’s much more usable and safe, and this will please everyone else who wants to blend classicism with modernism.
Performative and great to look at, it’s also pretty damn affordable, with prices starting out from £21,050. And because it’s based on the Mazda MX-5, buyers can be a bit more sure of its reliability record (something which has always dogged Fiat sports cars in the past).
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Convertible review.JTNDY2VudGVyJTNFJTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI1NjAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzMTUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGUUE1b0xjc2NTazAlMjIlMjBmcmFtZWJvcmRlciUzRCUyMjAlMjIlMjBhbGxvdyUzRCUyMmF1dG9wbGF5JTNCJTIwZW5jcnlwdGVkLW1lZGlhJTIyJTIwYWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuJTNFJTNDJTJGaWZyYW1lJTNFJTNDJTJGY2VudGVyJTNF
On The Road
There’s only one engine available at the moment, a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine that also powers the Alfa Romeo MiTo. Not much choice, then, but it’s a decent enough engine that develops as much as 138bhp, and which suits the car’s character well.
Naturally, 138bhp doesn’t sound like a lot, but the car always feels as though it has enough power to cope with any situation you put it in. It produces a lot of its power from down low in its rev range, and this means you don’t need to work it hard at all to get the best out of it.[vc_single_image image=”77747″ img_size=”article-image”]
The numbers? It can complete the 0-62 sprint in 7.5 seconds and has a max speed of 134mph. It’s not the fastest, then, but for a car of this size it feels lively, quick and actually quite powerful for a relatively small car and engine.
As mentioned, Fiat has based the car on the Mazda MX-5, but this one is quieter and has its own unique driving experience. This was made possible thanks to Fiat tweaking its steering and suspension setup, and it actually feels a bit sportier than the Mazda.
The Fiat is able to boast a fairly smooth ride, but body roll is a bit of an issue in bends. It makes for a fantastic cruiser, grip is excellent, but although the steering is well weighted it does lack feel. As this is a sports car, that’s a bit disappointing.
The 124 Spider benefits from a rear-wheel-drive layout and it’s a lot of fun to drive on weaving country lanes.
Fiat 124 Spider Convertible Interior, Design & Build
[vc_single_image image=”77746″ img_size=”article-image”]Inside, the Fiat is a lot like the Mazda MX-5, the car on which it’s based. The comfortable seats are set low down, the gear lever and pedals are well positioned, and the view is fantastic.
We love the leather-lined steering wheel, but it’s a shame that it doesn’t adjust in and out (it does adjust up and down), and this can make it hard for you to find the perfect driving position.
The car is comfortable on most surfaces, but it’s not at its best when it’s eating up motorway miles. When the roof is up, exterior noise can be a bit of a pain, while ride quality takes a hit when you crash over potholes.
The dashboard looks great with its rotary controllers for the air conditioning and heating feeling solid to the touch, and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s easy to use.
It’s impossible to be too critical of the quality of the materials; for the most part, the cabin is covered in soft-touch plastics, but if you look hard enough you will see evidence of scratchier plastics here and there.
Is the Fiat 124 Spider Convertible practical? Not especially. It comes with two seats and its cabin is on the small, cramped side. It cocoons both occupants nicely but it isn’t what you could call roomy.
There aren’t many storage spaces in here (there aren’t even a glovebox or door pockets) but the cabin does include a lockable storage that you’ll find located between the two seats, while its boot measures 140-litres. That isn’t big but it’s deep and can accommodate a few small suitcases and bags of shopping.
Equipment & Safety Of The Fiat 124 Spider Convertible
Standard kit across the range is good and includes a leather gear knob and steering wheel, air conditioning, electric windows and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Optional extras include a Bose stereo system.
In terms of how safe the car is, you’ll need to pay an extra £350 if you want the Safety Pack. It comes with auto dimming headlights, a rear cross-traffic alert system and blind spot monitoring.
Other than that, the Mazda MX-5 scored 4/5 when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. Because this car is unlikely to be tested, buyers will need to use that score to help them gauge how safe this car is.
Costs Of The Fiat 124 Spider Convertible
Prices for the new car start out from £21,050 and rise to £31,920. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
Pros and Cons Of The Fiat 124 Spider Convertible
0-62 is dispensed within 7.5 seconds, and because the car is so light the engine is able to offer more power than its numbers suggest.
It’s got the looks of a classic Italian sports car.
Value For Money
With prices starting out from around £21,000, it’s hard to argue with the amount of value on offer here.
At the same, its boot is significantly larger than the Lotus Elise.
Not Much Choice
One engine and one gearbox are all there is.
Fiat 124 Spider Convertible vs Mazda MX-5 vs Lotus Elise
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Convertible review.
Fiat 124 Spider Convertible vs Mazda MX-5
In many ways, the Fiat is the Mazda MX-5. The two cars look similar, and the 124 Spider is based on the MX-5.
But which car is ultimately better?
The Mazda gets an extra engine to choose from, but neither of its two engines offers a lot of power. However, due to the car’s lightweight nature, that doesn’t matter.[vc_single_image image=”58276″ img_size=”article-image”]
Sitting at the bottom of the engine range is a 1.5-litre SKYACTIV petrol engine that develops 129bhp. It can cover the 0-62 dash in 8.3 seconds, sounds awesome, revs rapidly and – despite a relatively modest power output – will be performative for most buyers.
At the top of the range is a 2.0-litre SKYACTIV petrol engine that produces 158bhp. It can motor its way from a standstill to 62mph in 7.3 seconds but doesn’t rev as high as the 1.5-litre engine. It adds a bit more meat to the bone and feels more powerful than its numbers suggest.
That said, neither engine comes with a turbocharger, which means the car doesn’t feel as urgent at low speeds as a racier hot hatch.
In terms of the way the MX-5 drives, it’s just as agile as last time and its standard 6-speed manual gearbox suits the car perfectly. There’s no automatic available.
Running costs? SKYACTIV tech ensures that each engine is actually pretty economical for a car of this type. The 1.5-litre unit returns around 46.9mpg on a good day, while emissions stand at 139g/km of CO2. The 2.0-litre unit, meanwhile, is good for returns of 40.9mpg and it emits 161g/km of CO2. This means it demands £180 a year in road tax.
Inside, the MX-5 benefits from borrowing its cabin from the Mazda3 Hatchback. It’s rich with tech, the quality of the materials used is high, and it’s a pleasant place to spend your time on the road.
The sporty, low set driving position is a highlight, but at the same time, taller drivers are going to find that the car is too small. The steering wheel is awkwardly positioned for anyone over six foot and it’s not very adjustable.
Other than that, the look and feel of the dashboard are much better than last time, although some harder plastics remain.
Is the Mazda MX-5 practical? Like the Fiat, it gets two seats – as well as even a smaller boot. Measuring just 130-litres it won’t be able to swallow much more than a small suitcase or two, but it can also cope with a bit of shopping.
Storage space is poor, and like the Fiat there’s no glovebox. Its two seats are snug and not too cramped and getting in and out is fairly simple to do.
Fiat – £21,050 – £31,920
Mazda – £20,495 – £25,595
Fiat 124 Spider Convertible vs Lotus Elise
The new Lotus Elise is a British sports car icon. It’s a tantalising proposition, but even if you can afford one of these bad boys just once in your life, do they actually live up to the hype?
When it comes to driving pleasure, there are few cars that can match the thrilling Elise. In terms of how much enjoyment it can offer out on the road, it’s peerless.
A mid-engined layout, an optimised chassis design and its fast-acting suspension setup are all part of the secret ingredients behind its success but the backbone of its success is Lotuses dedication to putting the driver first.[vc_single_image image=”77744″ img_size=”article-image”]
To this end, the pedals are perfectly positioned, the contoured seat is supportive, and the driving position is as sporty as they come.
In terms of its engines, you can choose from a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a bigger 1.8-litre petrol engine that powers the Elise S and S Cup models. The former develops 134bhp and takes 6.5 seconds to complete the 0-62 dash, while the latter produces 218bhp and rockets its way from a standstill to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds.
Ride quality is decent for both engines but road and wind noise are a huge issue and can make longer trips almost unbearable on those days when you just want to chill.
Running costs? Because the Lotus Elise doesn’t weigh too much, the economy is good. The 1.6-litre engine can return as much as 45mpg on a day when you take it easy, while the 1.8-litre engine is good for around 36.9mpg, which is amazing for a car of this type.
Inside, the Lotus is very much a driver’s car. It’s usable but far from luxurious, with Lotus giving you the tools to have a ball on the road – but not much else. If you want a smarter, more welcoming cabin, the Fiat and Mazda are better options.
Is the Lotus Elise practical? It’s surprisingly comfortable but access is poor. Getting in and out is awkward and the cabin, on the whole, is a bit inconvenient. A hollow dashboard is meant to be the glovebox, the car comes with one cup holder, while the boot measures just 117-litres, which makes it the smallest in this review.
Lotus – £31,500 – £44,640
Verdict Of Our 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Convertible Review
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