By on March 7, 2018

2018 FIAT 124 Spider

Many corners of the internet expected the roadster shown here to show up as an Alfa Romeo Spider, not a Fiat 124 Spider, when rumours surfaced all those years ago about the MX-5 donning a natty Italian suit. Perhaps Fiat Chrysler made its decision at the time based on Fiat’s larger dealer network or some sort of answer provided by Sergio’s Magic 8 Ball.

Whatever the reason, we now live in a world where a brace of affordable and fun two-place roadsters are on offer. While the fraternal twins share a great deal, their clothes are different, as are their hearts. We’ve already deemed the base Mazda MX-5 to be worthy of AoB mention; can its Italian brother turn the same trick?

The base Classica trim stickers at an agreeable $24,995 which is actually $300 less than the MX-5 for this 2018 model year. That’s a reversal of roles, as the Fiat used to command a few extra shekels. One of the biggest differences between the two, of course, is FCA’s choice to install the 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo in the 124 Spider rather than the mill found in the Mazda.

The Hiroshima harlot advertises 155 horsepower while the Italian stallion says it provides 160 ponies for its driver’s enjoyment. Given the fundamental differences between the two mills, they deliver their power in vastly different ways. Torque is said to be 184 lb-ft in the Fiat and 148 lb-ft in the Mazda. Both are teamed with a six-speed manual.

Every color on its seven-spot palette, ranging from Rosso Red to the Magnetico Bronze shown here, is offered at $0. Tires are sized a reasonable 195/50/16 and a quick check of the Tire Rack website reveals plenty of options in that measure for less than $100 each.

2018 FIAT 124 Spider

Its lack of standard SiriusXM radio, part of a $1,395 technology package, sticks in my craw. However, a case could be made that drivers of a fun and funky two-seat convertible should be listening to the engine instead of tunes. That point is not devoid of merit.

Everything seems closer when driving a convertible, such as when one is bombing along a county road and catches a whiff of freshly cut grass or tooling down Main Street and smelling the saucy ribs from that BBQ joint on the corner. Every interaction suddenly becomes more pronounced, more connected. Going for a gallon of milk is never so much fun.

2018 FIAT 124 Spider

At 7:35 a.m. on a deserted road, with its sub-2,400 lb weight perfectly distributed and the steering wheel speaking to me every time I run over an amoeba, do I care that I need T-Rex arms to adjust the 124’s radio via Mazda’s silly interface (which works great in the CX-9 but is obtuse here)? No. Do I care that I need to be a contortionist to get anything out of the glovebox? No. I really don’t care if this thing picks its nose and farts in bed. Small, fun convertibles are an elixir, the cure for the common car. They are fabulous and we need more of them.

That such driving fun can be had for $24,995 in this day and age is no less than remarkable. With this author heading into the month of March, dreaming of summer despite a snowstorm on the way for tomorrow, I can think of no better time in which to place the Fiat 124 Spider on our Ace of Base list.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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34 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Classica...”


  • avatar

    Is it just me, or does 40 more lbs of twist from the FCA engine seem like a lot? Not questioning the validity of the stat. Just, the seat of the pants feel between the two cars must be really different.

    • 0 avatar
      kngofrandomspam

      The Fiat 1.4T is kinda laggy and runs out of breath past 5k, despite what the numbers would suggest.

      The real reason for the 124 is that it uses the NC gearbox, instead of the ND gearbox which is on its 3rd revision due to high failure rates.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      In this application, the extra torque is not only noticeable for it’s peak, but how much more average torque there is. The 1.4T really is the better engine, having enough torque to easily move the car in any gear. It’s nice not having to constantly downshift to adjust speed. It works well here.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        You’re mad! :)

        The Mazda engine and driveline is perfect for involved driving. It’s much more responsive to heel-toe (or any other) form of quick rev matching. It also shines higher up in the revs, where sporty engines are at their most exciting.

        The Fiat engine is “better” (at least by some form of conventional sense) when driving for extended stretches on cruise control. Particularly in high altitude, hilly terrain, like in Colorado. But unless you’re either shorter than 5’9″ or have a short torso, the vind management on the Miata just doesn’t make it the greatest of GTs anyway.

        They’re both fantastic drivers’ cars compared to virtually anything else on the road, but for that last level of involvement, even when “racing” through/around tight city traffic or down back alleys, the more dynamic Mazda engine is just plain more involving and fun.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I guess if you like shifting more often and revving a buzzy engine, the Mazda motor is for you. I found the general drivability of the 1.4T easier to live with. Both cars are about as fast as each other so it would really come down to preference. The ability to easily add more boost with the turbo is cool though.

  • avatar

    This is just so much better looking than the Miata. And I’m sure you can get a much better deal on this than on a Miata too.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    Candidate for Question of the Day: how much better would this have sold had it been an Alpha? And at how much higher a margin?

    :sips tea: hummmmmmm…

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I really liked the 1.4 turbo in my 500 Abarth. I can’t help but think that a base 124 Spider with a good exhaust upgrade to uncork some of that Italian music would be a fantastic combo.

    I haven’t had an opportunity to drive a 124, yet. How does it sound in stock form? Pretty boring?

    The one dealer within a couple of hours of me has a number of 2017s still in stock but, alas, they all seem to be automatics. They are offering about $4k off sticker, though. This would make an Abarth version about the same price as the sticker on this base model.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I had one for a few weeks in the summer. The non Abarth models are pretty quiet, but not economy car quiet. If you’re looking for that 500 Abarth exhaust note (I’ve driven that car too), you’ll either want to spring for the 124 Abarth or put an aftermarket pipe on it.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I see the same thing where I’m at. The Fiat website showed one manual in my area, though Autotrader shows a few more. All about $4,000 off sticker.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    FWIW, it would have been great if they could have integrated FCA’s uConnect interface instead of Mazda’s. I find the HUD to be as out of place as the entertainment systems on some German cars with the pop-up screens.

    I wish I liked converts better. I think I’d like this one, though.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Something I have to say about the top, it’s one of the easiest to use I’ve ever experienced, including most power tops which this isn’t. One can sit in the driver seat, reach back with the right hand, easily pull the top up and latch it in place in seconds.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’ve read elsewhere that the Miata is going to be getting a 26 horsepower bump for 2019. No word if the Fiata will get something similar. The Miata is already the faster car, and 200 pounds lighter as well. The Fiat is certainly unique though, and usually cheaper than the equivalent Miata trim.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Uhhh, it’s like 100lbs.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      What you read was a reference to a NHTSA filing that listed the 2019 Miata as having 181bhp. Don’t get too excited about that, though. Those particular documents have been known to be wrong before, whether via typo, wishful thinking, legal backflips to meet emissions requirements, etc.

      Frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it. And since the Fiat has a completely different drivetrain, a hp bump for one is no indication that there will be a bump for the other.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    “Do I care that I need to be a contortionist to get anything out of the glovebox?”

    Glovebox? It has a glovebox? The Mazda doesn’t…

  • avatar
    mike1041

    Nice looker and all but I have a no parking FCA rule in my driveway. Miata has a generation of dependability behind it thank you very much.

  • avatar

    i’ve a 2016 club. recently got to try a buddy’s 2017 classica for a toot down and back up a twisty challenging road in los gatos. sadly, my buddy’s is an automatic. but the standout for me was how dead the steering of the fiata was. my mazda is a chatterbox. the fiat was a mute. once i got over its silence, i found the car could be placed in the corners exactly the same way but its dead steering was still off-putting.

    no comment on the automatic.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Had to double check that Steph wasn’t filling in on an AoB post with his all time favorite engine adjective showing up in the article.

    Penny pinchers will want to know what the 124’s depreciation is like compared to the Miata.

    Like most people who’ve owned a Miata I miss mine, but can confirm that the most important use case for the stereo is when you’re stationary. The space behind the seats where the roof goes can act like a giant echo chamber magnifying the sounds from the trunk.

  • avatar
    rolando

    That Fiat is soooo much prettier than the Mazda, but I would want the Mazda engine if I’m buying (and paying to keep it running)!

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