How do you say “Miata” in Italian? Say it with me, “fee-yat one-two-four spi-der.” Yes, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider takes everything that makes the Miata great and adds turbocharged power and Italian styling. While it may be based on the Japanese roadster, Fiat did a great job separating it from the Miata it’s based on by strapping all-new sheet metal to the chassis, giving it a distinct look.

The big question is whether not this Italian Miata – or Fiata, if you prefer – speaks fluent roadster. Continue reading for the answer to that and more.

Best Value

Like the Miata it’s based on, the Fiat 124 Spider’s standard equipment is very basic – maybe a bit too basic. The best balance of price and equipment comes in the midrange Lusso trim, which runs just a few thousand more than the base model at $28,840 (destination fees included) and adds more premium touches like heated leather seats, keyless entry, fog lights, upgraded 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, piano-black interior trim, and more.

This trim also opens the 124 Spider to a few optional packages, including the Comfort and Convenience Group, the Navigation & Sound Group, and the Visibility Group. The Navigation & Sound Group, which costs $1,295 and adds navigation and a nine-speaker audio system is a good value that’s worth adding.

  • Model: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso EX
  • Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 160 hp/ 184 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 26 City / 35 Hwy
  • Options: Navigation and Sound Group ($1,295, navigation, nine-speaker audio system with a subwoofer)
  • Base Price: $28,840 (including a $1,245 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $30,135

Performance

FIAT 124 Spider

Being based on one of the most fun small cars on the road, the Mazda Miata, the Fiat 124 Spider is almost equally fun to toss around. It has just enough body lean to keep things interesting, but the firm suspension keeps it glued to the tarmac. Add the Abarth badging, and this convertible is even more agile.

Midrange passing with the 124 Spider’s turbocharged four-cylinder is markedly better than in the Miata owing to the turbocharge dpower. This is even more noticeable in the slightly more powerful Abarth model.

Despite the power and torque advantage the 124 Spider has on the Miata, its slow-to-spool turbocharger leads means Fiat's take on the roadster is a second slower to 60 miles per hour.

Interior and Exterior

Though it’s based on the legendary Miata, the Fiat 124 Spider doesn’t share a square inch of its sheet metal with the Mazda. It boasts a unique look that is distinctly Italian and, to some, more upscale. Inside, much of the cabin is shared with the Miata, which is far from a bad thing, save for the rotary knob that is poorly positioned.

The 124 Spider also boasts a more sound deadening that one may expect from a lightweight roadster, like an acoustic windshield, a thick rear window, and more. This helps keep the interior surprisingly quiet. This combines with better-than-expected ride quality to deliver an upscale feel.

However, you’re quickly reminded that this is a roadster when you try to cram luggage in its 4.94-cubic-foot trunk. Also, the cabin is equally cramped, making longer trips a bit uncomfortable without frequent stops to stretch out.

The Best and Worst Things

The Fiat 124 Spider’s amazing balance of ride quality and handling is a work of art. Plus, a sub-seven-second sprint to 60 mph paired with a fuel economy rating of 29 miles per gallon combined is equally mesmerizing.

That said, its turbocharged engine leads some Miataphiles to believe it’s quicker than their beloved roadster, but it is actually a good bit slower due to noticeable turbo lag. Sadly, its slow-spooling turbocharger leaves drivers begging for more. It's also worth mentioning that while the 124 Spider shares its engine with the 500 Abarth, it does not adopt that car's righteous, un-muffled exhaust note.

Right For? Wrong For?

FIAT 124 Spider

The Fiat 124 Spider is perfect for Miata fans who fell out of love with the latest redesign or just need something with a bit more class to it.

That said, if you’re looking for more bottom-end punch from the go-fast pedal, the 124 Spider will leave you disappointed.

The Bottom Line

Wish the Miata had a turbocharger and Italian style? The Fiat 124 Spider may be your answer, but don’t expect an acceleration boost to accompany its added power.