HALF a century after the original Fiat Spider hit the streets of Europe, the model is back in a modern and revitalised form to put a whole new spin on the UK two-seater market.
First seen in June at Verona, Italy, the car is now in the UK and ready to lock horns in the sales arena with the likes of the Mazda MX-5.
Strange really because the 124 Spider and the MX-5 share the same platform, but there the similarity ends because Fiat has made great efforts to ensure that this car embodies a different character and encapsulates all that is the emotional side of Fiat design.
Fiat has set out to bring the authentic, Italian roadster driving experience to a whole new generation of British enthusiasts and the car is an amazing take of the old design. It brings a styling mix of pastfame with a thoroughly modern slightly haunched stance, plus a sizzlingly good looking grille to complete the recipe.
And it is not that expensive with prices starting at £19,545.
The profile view is pure classic roadster, with a long wheelbase, a cockpit hunkered low near the driven rear axle and a long bonnet, all linked elegantly together by a horizontal line that emerges from the front wing, kicking up over the rear.
Power is by a by a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo Petrol engine which churns out a healthy 140hp complete with a generous 240Nm of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 44.1mpg and the car has a CO2 figure of 148g/km.
Capable of 134mph, the 124 Spider can zoom from 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds which is bang in the fun zone for a car of this type.
And rather than make it into a hairy, sparsely equipped two-seater, Fiat has waved the premium stick over its new baby providing it with a high specification.
All UK 124 Spiders include air conditioning, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and keyless start.
An integrated rear spoiler enhances the aerodynamic performance, while twin exhaust outlets are a reminder of its sporting pedigree.
The FIAT 124 Spider will be available in eight colours, with two pastel finishes (Passione Red and Ice White), five metallic shades (Volcano Black, Argento Grey, Fashion Grey, Magnetic Bronze and Italia Blue) and one tri-coat pearlescent finish - Urban White.
The multi-layer canvas hood is manually operated and can be raised or lowered in seconds without the driver getting out of the car
Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that this model is rear-wheel-drive and the neat six-speed manual gearbox is slick and rewarding in providing fast changes when needed.
The FIAT 124 Spider's suspension uses a double-wishbone layout in front and a multilink in the rear, specifically tuned for greater stability while braking and turning, while the dual-pinion electric power steering system has been specifically tuned to give the Spider a responsive, Italian feel.
On offer are an extensive range of active and passive safety devices.
A voice-controlled infotainment system with Bluetooth, LED rear light clusters, four airbags, tyre pressure monitprs, cruise control, a speed limiter and ESC with ABS and EBD are all standard, as are seat belts with pre-tensioners and Constant-Force Retractors (CFR) to control the degree of force applied by the belt onto the occupant and then gradually release it in a controlled manner.
Three trim levels will be offered in the UK: Classica, Lusso and Lusso Plus.
On the road the 124 Spider behaves just how a modern small two-seater should. It provides a generous amount of steering feel of what the car is doing allied to tenacious cornering and a ride that keeps to Fiat's promise of pocket premium by being not too hard and relatively compliant.
In one hit Fiat has given its image a massive boost with this car which plays a part in heralding what I hope to be a new age of small two seaters in the UK, the likes of which we have not seen since the glory days of cars like the MG Midget and Triumph Spitfire.