Fiat Spider 124

Lusso Plus

Fiat 124 Spider, action front
Fiat 124 Spider, front quarter
Fiat 124 Spider, dynamic
Fiat 124 Spider, rear action hood
Fiat 124 Spider, action rear
Fiat 124 Spider, profile
Fiat 124 Spider, rear quarter
Fiat 124 Spider, interior
Fiat 124 Spider, boot

AS luck would have it a roadster arrived during a week of near constant rain so I was unable to sample the delights of Fiat's 124 Spider with the roof down for even five minutes.

However, I still managed to enjoy my time with the Spider which marks the Italian brand's return to the two-seater roadster market after a gap of more than ten years.

The Spider is built in Hiroshima, Japan alongside Mazda's excellent MX-5 and shares its platform and most of its mechanicals.

As a result it features fantastic rear-wheel-drive handling and provides superb driving pleasure.

The Spider's styling is more rounded and less sharp than its Mazda cousin and every exterior panel is changed. The Spider has a retro touch to its looks and it also features Fiat's own MultiAir turbocharged engine.

It is slightly longer than the MX-5 and manages to look substantially different thanks to its large front grille, longer overhangs and flatter sides.

The changes give the Fiat its own sense of style and identity but the essentials are all taken from the Mazda - and that is no bad thing as the car is solidly built and fun to drive.

The Italian flavour sits under the stylish bonnet in the shape of Fiat's 138bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir engine. It may not rev in the same way as the naturally aspirated 1.5 and 2.0-litre units which feature in the Mazda but it does perform as well as the latter.

The engine is mated to an excellent six-speed gearbox and thanks to its torque output it doesn't have to be worked hard to get the best out of its performance.Unlike the Mazda the Spider is available in the UK with an automatic gearbox.

The Italian engine makes a decent noise and combined with the raspy exhaust it makes you feel as if you are driving a quicker performer.

Official figures claim the Fiat will cover the 0-62mph sprint in just 7.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 134mph. It feels faster thanks to the mid-range torque and this also helps to make it a more relaxing cruiser.

The ride also feels more supple than in the Mazda thanks to suspension adjustments and the Spider deals well with lumps and bumps.

The steering is quick and accurate and is nicely weighted while the brakes provide excellent stopping power.

Inside the compact cabin is almost identical to the MX-5, although Fiat has opted to use some slightly different and softer materials. The sporty dash is dominated by a central touchscreen infotainment system and there are a couple of storage compartments.

The boot offers 240 litres of space and will take a couple of soft weekend bags, while the manually-operated fabric roof is shared with the Mazda and can easily be opened and closed even on the move.

FAST FACTS

Fiat Spider 124 Lusso Plus

Price:£25,050

Mechanical:140ps, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:134mph

0-62mph:7.5 seconds

Combined MPG:44.1

Insurance Group:26

C02 emissions:148g/km

Bik rating:26%

Warranty:3yrs/100,000 miles

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