2017 FIAT 124 Spider

Soon there will be more to FIAT in North America than the 500. Recently announced at the LA Auto Show was the FIAT 124, a roadster based on the Mazda MX-5, but with the FIAT 1.4-liter MultiAir (read turbocharged) four cylinder putting out 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The Mazda version has 155 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. out of a non-turbo 2.0-liter. That engine is the one found in the FIAT 500 Abarth and will likely turn the little car into a roadster rocket compared with the MX-5 due to the leap in torque. Here is the original 124 for comparison: And here is the new one: Why would someone take a Mazda MX-5 and slap some different sheetmetal on it to make it their own??? Especially someone as big and full of great cars like FIAT! Granted, it’s easier to bring a model to the US market that has already passed safety and emissions testing, and the MX-5 is perpetually lauded for its handling prowess, but this has the propensity to be either a boon for FIAT or a bust. That judgement will have to wait until that production vehicles make it here. We should all be grateful that the 124 can be had with either the wonderful six-speed manual or six-speed automatic found in the MX-5 So that’s the bad. The good is that the new 124 indeed looks like the original and this adaptation promises to be a wonderful performer and welcome addition to the FIAT portfolio in the US. On the safety front, the 124 has advanced features like adaptive front headlamps, blind-spot monitoring and a backup camera.

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James E. Bryson

Cars make the world go 'round!

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