Fiat spins up a new Spider

Fiat’s traditional rear-wheel drive roadster borrows from Mazda MX-5

Published: November 18, 2015, 6:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:28 PM

2016 Fiat 124 Spider

2016 Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat likes to do things in 50-year increments. It reintroduced the new 500 on the 50th anniversary of the original’s launch and now it’s bringing a new 124 Spider roadster to market nearly 50 years after the launch of its famous predecessor.

The company is touting its Turin-designed “Anniversario” model as introducing classic Italian styling (inspired by the 1966 124 Sport Spider) and traditional rear-wheel driving pleasure to a new generation of buyers. Unlike the original 2 2, this Mazda MX-5 underpinned model is a 2-seater.

Zoom-zoominess is provided in the form of an aluminum and high-tensile steel platform comprised of straight beams and rear cross members. The suspension is set up with double-wishbones up front and multi-links in the rear (engineered to increase toe-in under cornering for improved stability).

1974 Fiat 124 Sport Spider

The exterior does bear a sort of resemblance to the convertible marketed by Fiat from 1967 through 1985 (especially around the wide upper grille and the recessed line from the headlights to the door handles), the latter years as the Pininfarina Spider Azzura.

The new car features a turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir engine (140 hp and 177 lb-ft) under a hood panel with twin power domes to mimic the look of the second generation model, which needed the extra space for larger engines without drastically altering the sleek lines. At the other end, the softly finned rear haunches taper into large blocky horizontal taillamps like that of the original, but feature the modern styling cue of body-colour inserts.

The insulated fabric roof is a counter sprung mechanical structure that reportedly negates the need for power assisted operation (easily done from the driver’s seat, the company affirms), though the power windows automatically lower when the roof-header latches are released.

2016 Fiat 124 Spider cockpit

The interior is a combination of classic and modern styling, with occupants sitting low in the tub on lightweight net structure, foam shaped seats upholstered in premium coverings. The driver-optimized seating position features ideally located wheel, pedals, 6-speed shifter and large tachometer-centered 3-gauge cluster.

Modern features include Bluetooth connectivity, available Bose 9-speaker audio system, internet radio, two USB ports, touchscreen display, rearview camera and 3D navigation system. Voice actuation is available for control of select features.

The 124 Spider goes on sale in Canada in summer 2016.