FIAT 124 SPIDER
Tom Scanlan enjoys the latest right hand drive sports car from Fiat, the 124 Spider
A couple of decades back, Fiat teased us in the UK with that pretty little Fiat Barchetta two-seater. Left-hand-drive only, it was, shame on Fiat. However, the New Fiat 124 Spider has belatedly put that right and for around £25,000 you can now experience some of that Italian open-top flair.
What do we want from our sports cars? Obviously, performance in a straight line is one thing: the Spider jumps to 62 mph in a dashing 7.5 seconds. Top speed is claimed to be 134 mph.
Then there’s the handling; cars like this must stick like glue on corners and transform twisty country roads like they’re on rails. The Fiat Spider ticks those boxes, too.
The steering is just right, pointing the car precisely where you want it with the proper amount of feel.
Outstanding brakes are just as important. I found the Fiat’s to be a good compromise between sensitivity and power.
And the gear-change. Gotta be top notch, too. The Spider’s so nearly is. Up and down the ‘H’ it’s great, across it, not so good, in fact, notchy. Maybe the car was very new and the notchiness might go, but, no, the car was well into thousands of miles clocked up.
Exhaust note…nearly forgot to mention this key element. With the hood up the 124 Spider is quite a noisy car, with a fair amount of road noise that may be able to be damped out in the next generation, I would hope. The note out of the tail pipe is pretty satisfying if you wind the engine up, satisfying if not exactly exciting. Hood down: of course, you then hear more noise until the wind usurps most of it
The car tested was a 124 spider 140 bhp MultiAir Lusso Plus, Lusso, of course, being Italian for luxury. Luxurious? Sort of. There are nine Bose speakers, four of them in the headrests. That’s good. There is a little glove box behind and between the seats and two cup-holders. Fiat gets two ‘well done’ stickers for providing sun visors (which is something that drop-top cars often lack) and placing the hand brake lever on the correct (right-hand) side of the console.
The hood has to be lowered or raised by hand. With some contortion, this can just about be done from the driver’s seat and is quite a neat arrangement. Whether up or down, the hood has no effect on the luggage space in the boot, which is itself a reasonable size for this type of car.
The cockpit comes into the ‘cosy’ category. The seats are well-designed, comfortable and supportive. The suspension suited me fine; I found a three-and-a-half-hour non-stop drive no problem with any stiffness of the limbs or back ache. Incidentally, most of this journey was at night, on the motorway and dual carriageways. The Fiat Spider proved to have really useful acceleration in top gear at motorway speed limit level and the lights were excellent.
The instrumentation has an austere look about it. It is simply white needles and numerals on black, without even the traditional red line to indicate the rpm limit.
As to fuel economy, the trip computer showed 35.8 mpg over a distance, covering all traffic situations. The official combined figure is 44.1 mpg. Given the 45-litre fuel tank, a range of 350 miles or more should be achievable. Emissions are 148 g/km.
Overall, the Fiat 124 Spider really does the job. It’s fun to drive, so that’s almost the whole story for an Italian sports car.
Car reviewed: Fiat 124 Spider LUSSO PLUS 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140hp – On the road price £25050 0-60mph 7.5 secs Top speed 134mph Fuel Economy combined 44.1mpg CO2 emissions 148g/km Engine 1368cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol Max Power 140HP@5000 rpm Torque 240Nm@2250rpm Transmission 6-speed manual Insurance Group 26E
Comfortable driving position
Ticks all the boxes
A completely fun sportscar
Slightly notchy gearshift
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