Fiat has stirred the automotive world with the unveiling of the Fiat 124 Spider at the Los Angeles Motor show. The long awaited roadster is a re-skinned Mazda Miata/MX-5, courtesy of a joint project between Mazda and Fiat. This is also Fiat’s revival of the 124 Sport Spider, which last left the factory three decades ago.
Italian flair has been injected into the new 124 with elements of the classic 124 Sport Spider infused into this car. This includes the hexagonal grille, rounded headlights and the rectangular taillight shape; paying homage to its predecessor. The sculpted front bonnet is also inspired from the original 124.
Apart from the obvious badge swapping in the steering wheel, Fiat promised the interior, which comprises of premium soft-touch materials, was designed with the occupants in mind. While Mazda focused on the “Jinbai Ittai” experience to the driver in the MX-5, Fiat prioritised comfort to the occupant in the 124 Spider.
The biggest change goes to the powertrain; Fiat ditches the Skyactiv for its own 1.4-litre MultiAir II engine. This 158 bhp engine is similar to the unit that powers the 500 Abarth – the Italians probably prefer Italian brute over Japanese efficiency. For those craving for more power, the Abarth-tuned 124 would be their ideal weapon of choice. Transmission options of either six-speed manual or automatic are offered, similar to the MX-5.
The new 124 Spider is slated to hit US and Europe showrooms in 2016 with the latter continent expecting some mild alterations. Also bound for the United States is the limited edition Prima Edizione Lusso. This 124-unit only edition will spot a commemorative badge with Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint and premium leather seats.
Before we unanimously say yes to our usual “isthiscar4u“, do note that not all Japanese-Italian collaboration work. Case in point, the Alfa Romeo Arna. Putting a Japanese designed hatchback (functional but boring) with an Italian engine (we don’t need to remind you the nightmare stories of old Alfas) is like having wasabi as ravioli filling.
Time will tell if the Italian-Japanese fusion like the 124 Spider will be as tantalising as indulging fine Japanese roll with mouth-watering Italian roast filling, or as ghastly as tasting rejected experimental food from Pasta Zanmai.