In 2017, Fiat made its triumphant return to the world of roadsters with the resurrection of the 124 Spider. Despite its family name, this small drop-top is actually more Japanese than Italian. It's built on the same platform as the legendary Mazda Miata.

Does this Miata-based roadster actually give Mazda buyers something to think about, or is it just an alternatively styled Miata?

Pricing and Equipment

Like the Miata, the Fiat 124 Spider offers a lot of value in the sports car segment. Sure, it’s not overly powerful or fast, but it offers great handling, plenty of features, and a low starting price of just $25,990. At this price, the Spider comes with:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • LED taillights
  • Keyless ignition
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Buyers looking for more features can opt for the Technology Collection ($1,295), which includes a 7-inch display, voice command with Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and more. There are also two better-equipped trims available, the plush Lusso and sporty Abarth, which run $28,490 and $29,190, respectively. (All prices include destination fees.)

Performance Pros

FIAT 124 Spider

The 124 Spider features a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The latter contributes heavily to the 6.8-second 0-to-60 time we noted.

  • Outmuscles the Miata with its 160-horsepower 1.4-liter engine
  • Shifts directions with the best of them, particularly the Abarth model
  • Pretty quick to 60 mph for its class

Performance Cons

Despite the additional torque, the 124 Spider is actually slower to 60 mph than the Miata, which completes the task in 6 seconds flat. The difference is the Spider's mild turbo lag. The automatic transmission makes this lag even more noticeable.

  • Mild turbo lag actually makes it a tad slower to 60 mph than the Miata
  • Automatic transmission puts the turbo lag front and center
  • Paddle shifters are not offered on all models

Interior Pros

FIAT 124 Spider

Inside, the 124 Spider has more soft-touch materials than the Miata, making it feel like a classier rig. We also noted that the seats are surprisingly comfortable during quick, cross-town jaunts.

  • Higher quality materials than the Miata
  • Seats are plenty comfy for short hauls
  • Well equipped from the base model up

Interior Cons

While the seats are great for short hauls, the comfort level deteriorates quickly after a few hours. We also had a hard time finding small cubbies to store things like phones and keys.

  • Seats get uncomfortable after a few hours
  • Storage space is very limited
  • Touchscreen looks like it was forced

The Most Pleasant Surprise

It’s hard to compete with the nimble Miata, and the 124 Spider does so admirably. We're particularly impressed with the Abarth model and its tighter suspension tuning that outdoes the base Miata.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

While the additional power looks great on paper, but doesn’t translate into better around-town driving. The turbo lag is very noticeable, especially on automatic-equipped models.

The Bottom Line

The Fiat 124 Spider is a great, better-equipped alternative to the Miata, but its extra power, while enticing, doesn’t translate into better performance. In addition to having a slightly better fit and finish, the 124 Spider also fits buyers who like to stand out in the crowd, as there are bound to be a lot fewer of these than Miatas prowling around.