Models Covered:

2dr Convertible (1.4 MultiAir petrol)


In 2016, the 124 Spider revived a classic name from Fiat’s back catalogue and added some Italian glamour to the affordable roadster segment of the sportscar market. This Type 348 car shares much with the Mazda MX-5, its closest Japanese rival, but a lively 1.4-litre turbocharged engine delivers a unique feel that provides this model with much of its unique character.

The History

Let us tell you a strange story. About a Fiat that was originally going to be an Alfa Romeo but which was primarily a Mazda. Welcome, to the modern era Fiat 124 Spider.

You’re going to need some explanation, but to understand it, it’s necessary to appreciate a bit of back history. Let’s start with this: affordable open-topped sportscar motoring really has three main eras. There’s the British one of the Fifties and Sixties, with cars like MGs and Triumph TRs. Then there’s the modern one, popularised by today’s iconic Mazda MX-5. In between though, there was a period from the late Sixties to the early Eighties when for many people, a car of this sort simply had to be Italian. It simply had to be an Alfa Spider or a Fiat 124 Spider.

Fast forward to the middle part of the 21st century’s second decade and you find the Fiat conglomerate wanting to reclaim a slice of that history. The problem was though, that sportscars are a niche segment, making it difficult to justify the huge investment required to produce something as good – or better than – the market-leading MX-5. But why bother, Fiat thought? Why not persuade Mazda to donate MX-5 underpinnings to a new product that could be given an Italian look and feel, creating a new-generation Alfa Spider, until it became clear that model would have to be fundamentally built in Japan. Which was a problem, given that the Fiat board had just decreed that all future Alfas were to be built in Italy….

Cue a quick change of plan and a decision instead to pursue the same approach but use it revive the Fiat 124 Spider model line. Since the original 124 sportscar, the Turin brand hadn’t offered a proper rear-driven sportscar, its only modern-era effort in this regard having been the front-driven Punto-based Barchetta model, launched in 1995. If Fiat was going to a proper rear-driven format and launch a new-era 124 Spider, it soon became clear that the production process would be complicated. Company policy insisted upon the new car using a Fiat engine, the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo motor used in the Alfa Giulietta and Fiat 500 Abarth. The deal with Mazda though, required the new car to roll along the same Hiroshima production line as an MX-5. As a result, the Italian maker had to ship that MultiAir powerplant to Japan where it got fitted into the 124 and, if the car was to be sold in Europe, turned round and sent straight back again. Was all that effort really worthwhile? Let’s try and decide whether this Fiat, launched in 2016 and on sale until 2020, is a credible used buy.

What You Get

It’s from the side that you appreciate the extra length that Fiat has added to this design – it’s 139mm longer than an MX-5. That might not sound much but in the metal, the change is enough to visually reposition this car.

And inside? Well after all the changes made to the panelwork and the engine bay, it’s something of a shock to find a cockpit carried over from the MX-5 virtually unchanged. There’s a Fiat badge on the steering wheel, revised door panels and a softer touch, plusher material is used on the top of the dash. Otherwise, everything you see is exactly as it would be in the Mazda. We can understand why purists might object to that, but then a purist is unlikely to be considering an Italian sportscar built in Hiroshima anyway. Pragmatically speaking, there was really no need to change an interior that Mazda spent years in perfecting, offering as it does a driving position tailored to fit you like a glove.

One thing the roof doesn’t do is compromise your bootspace – which is just as well since, as with any roadster, there’s not very much of it. The extra length of this Fiat has freed up 10-litres more trunk room than you get in an MX-5 – there’s 140-litres in total – but that’s not going to make very much difference to the limited amount you can carry. If that’s a problem, go and buy a hot hatch.

What To Look For

Our survey revealed plenty of satisfied 124 Spider customers, but inevitably, there were a few issues, things that you should look for. Some 2017 era models had thermostat issues. Some 2017 and 2018 models have had water pump leaks – all resolved under warranty.

Some 2017 and 2018-era Abarth models had issues with the alarm going off randomly. Because this is an open-top, you should check the interior for water damage. Look out for alloy wheels kerb damage - and for bodywork damage too because the 124 uses some lightweight aluminium panels that won’t be cheap to repair if dented. There’s an owners website –

On The Road

This Fiat may share a lot of its underpinnings with a Mazda MX-5, but a crucial difference lies beneath the bonnet. Here, the Italian has a zesty turbocharged 1.4-litre engine that delivers 140bhp and drives through a six-speed manual gearbox. Make the most of its power, along with 240 Newton metres of shove, and it cracks 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds before heading on to a top speed of 134mph. That’s brisk enough by today’s standards and feels even swifter thanks to the open-top experience you get when the roof is lowered. Use the 124 with a bit more restraint and it can give a combined consumption of 44.1mpg and 148g/km of carbon dioxide output. The more potent 170bhp Abarth model produces the same emissions when coupled to its six ratio manual ’box, but economy drops to 33.2mpg. With both variants, a 6-speed paddleshift auto gearbox is optional.


It’s easy to be critical when it comes to platform sharing but you might, like us, actually be quite surprised at just how different this 124 actually is from its Mazda MX-5 design cousin. There was room in this segment though, for something different and this Fiat provided it. Ultimately, every love story has its own soundtrack. If this is yours, then we think you’ll like this car very much.