What is it?
The Fiat 124 Spider marks the Italian car maker’s return to a part of the new car scene that it hasn’t occupied for more than a decade, since the demise of the Barchetta. And compared with its immediate predecessor, the new 124 Spider comes to the UK with two big advantages: it’s rear-wheel drive and it’s available in right-hand-drive form.
But unlike Fiat’s last, this Italian roadster isn’t coachbuilt in Italy and quite plainly hasn’t been styled to cut quite the same visually arresting dash as the Barchetta. The 124 Spider is the long-anticipated sister car of the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5. Originally intended to be an Alfa Romeo rather than a Fiat (before Fiat bosses decided that all new Alfas must be made in Italy), it is built on the same production line as the Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan.
But the 124 courts a more mature and laid-back audience than the Mazda, offering a slightly bigger boot than its equivalent as well as softer suspension and a turbocharged engine that gives up greater torque and needn’t be worked as hard.
Our test experience of the car has so far been limited to Italian roads. Now to find out exactly how well those becalmed chassis settings take to the UK’s better B-roads.