Hot on the heels of a few days in Miami driving all the convertibles, I had an unexpected pleasure of an invitation drop into my inbox.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (better know as FCA, the company behind great car brands like Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, Jeep, and more) asked me if I’d like to head to San Diego for a few days to be one of the first to drive the brand new Fiat 124 Spider. Sounds like an easy proposition and one that I couldn’t refuse. But it’s not always easy to rearrange schedules for a last minute cross-country trip.
I did it anyway. Because have you seen it?
And just in case you think it’s just another convertible, it’s actually a roadster with history.
The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider revives the storied nameplate, bringing its classic Italian styling and performance to a new generation. Paying homage to the original 124 Spider nearly 50 years after its introduction, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider delivers the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety, combined with iconic Italian design.
What I loved the most was hearing about the original Fiat Spider and actually seeing one. And hearing from some of you about the memories you have tied to your parents or even grandparents owning one. It’s a car with a bit of a cult following and that’s what Virgilio Fernandez, Chief Designer Interior, Leia Horton, Vehicle Integration Responsible and Program Manager, and Nicole Longhini, Fiat Brand Manager tried to convey.
I knew from meeting Nicole last year at the Fiat 500X drive that Fiat is a brand that embraces its Italian heritage. She, along with the others, went through each and every detail of how the car was different, better but still built upon its original design principles.
Before I regale you of stories of driving through Southern California, let me share some of the standout features of the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider.
- Available in two trims: Classica and Lusso (Lusso has more luxury features available – yes please!)
- The first 124 units will be available as limited-production Prima Edizione Lusso. Yes, I saw one. And, no, you probably can’t get one.
- The cabin, hood, and trunk proportions were modeled after the original and show as a modern interpretation of the classic Fiat Spider.
- The convertible soft top is manually operated but is super easy to operate.
- Pricing for the Classico starts at $24,995 (MSRP). Wait – WHAT? That’s cheap! I know, right?
- And because we’re talking about a car, I should tell you car stuff like that it has 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. If you’re not a car person, I’m here to tell you that torque matters more to me than horsepower. It’s what makes it feel zippy!
None of that matters though unless you can see it for yourself which is why I brought you along to California with me!
While it looks like it was all fun and games (oh, who am I kidding? IT WAS FUN), there were a couple of standout features for me.
On the Autocross course (that you saw in the video), we had a chance to drive the Abarth Manual with the Mopar aftermarket package. Now THAT was a zippy car and if I were to purchase the Spider, I might have to opt for the higher performance version.
I also loved that I could reasonably wear my hair down in the convertible. While you may still opt for the Audrey Hepburn look or even a baseball cap, the windshield is designed for the airflow to go over top of your head. And when you have the windows up (with the top down), you can actually manage your hair. Make sure to check out the video above if you don’t believe me!
And finally, a true drive wouldn’t be complete without comparing it to other vehicles of a similar nature. The Volkswagen Beetle and Mini Cooper are both considered competitors but with 4-passenger seating, I wouldn’t even put either of these fine vehicles in the same class. What is in the same class (and for good reason) is the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
The Miata and Spider are built on sister platforms and feel eerily similar both inside and out. So which one should you get? I had the chance to drive the Miata and while I love it, the Spider had the edge for me with a more accented interior and better body curves on the exterior. Even better? The Fiat 124 Spider comes in at a lower price.
If you’re looking an empty-nester or looking for a fun third car or have a lifestyle that lets you spend all your time in a roadster, I highly recommend checking out the all new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider.
Special thanks to my driving partner Dawn from Simply Sassy Style who always makes California seem so fun!
FCA provided travel and accommodations for me to attend the Fiat 124 Spider Drive in San Diego, CA. All thoughts and opinions are my own.