“Fiata:” the 2017 Fiat 124, high-powered kin of the Mazda Miata

Fiat 124 Spider grille

Nearly fifty years after the original was launched, Fiat has unveiled the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. The car delivers the style of the original, with a thoroughly modern engine — the turbocharged MultiAir 1.4 with 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, already used in the Dart, Fiat 500 Abarth, and other cars.

red fiat 124

The original Fiat 124 Spider hit the US in 1968, becoming the Spider 2000 when it gained a new 2-liter engine in 1979. Styled and built by Pininfarina, it had a five-speed manual transmission, twin cam engine, and four-wheel disc brakes. In 1982, the name switched to Pininfarina Spider Azzurra (in Europe, Spidereuropa); this lasted three years. Around 3/4 of nearly 200,000 cars made were sold in the U.S., and 8,000 are still registered there.

1968 Fiat 124 Spider

The Fiat 124 is the first rear wheel drive car with the 1.4 turbo. The six-speed manual transmission is directly connected, and uses a die-cast aluminum housing; control over the flow of transmission oil and material use cut its weight. It was tuned for light shifts and was geared to allow for a compact rear differential with a thin case to preserve weight, while still cutting noise. The automatic is an Aisin with a manual override.

Tail of the 2017 Fiat Spider

Not surprisingly, Fiat opted for a double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension in the rear. Shock absorbers are connected directly to the hub supports, for a 1:1 ratio in relation to the suspension stroke, aided by a carefully chosen mounting position. The axis of wheel deflection is behind the point of contact with the road in response to lateral input from the tires, so the links use lateral force from the tires to increase toe-in, even under higher G-forces, for greater stability while turning.

The company chose light, responsive steering with an electrically power-assisted dual pinion system; the power assist is applied directly to the steering rack for a linear response.

2017 Fiat 124 grille

Weight distribution has been balanced front-to-rear, with a lowered yaw inertia moment achieved by moving the engine rearward and using aluminum at the front and rear of the body; the car has a low center of gravity.  The body structure usees straight beams in a continuous framework wherever possible. Safety and rigidity were increased by the use of aluminum and high-tensile steel, and the design of the straight high-mount backbone frame for the front tunnel section, the large cross section, and having the subframe and crossmembers connect the backbone to the front and rear sections.

white fiat 124 spider

Components made of aluminum include the hood and trunk lid, front and rear bumper reinforcements, seatback bars, underbody crossmember and bulkhead panel; the seat structure use a lightweight net material on the seatback and cushion.

To cut noise, Fiat used an acoustic windshield and sound insulation, along with aerodynamic tuning. The engine mounts were also adjusted, and the cross-section shape of the frame that joins the transmission to the rear differential was set up to allow people to sit closer to the center of the vehicle, while reducing powertrain vibrations. Suspension components were tuned to avoid resonance with one another.

Fiat 124 Spider car

The Spider has a soft convertible top, manually operated, with operations guided by observations of how people open and close their tops. When the lock levers are used, the windows are automatically lowered by 140 mm if they were raised all the way.

The Fiat 124 Spider’s seat structure provides consistent support from the thighs, rear, hips and side of the ribcage, while bolsters are less snug at the shoulder level to make it easier to operate the top. With the top and windows down, wind is guided above the heads of occupants, cutting but direct wind and drafts from behind.

Styling and technology

While the styling pays homage to the past, the technologies are new, and include blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, a backup camera, and adaptive headlamps. Options include a seven-inch touchscreen stereo, heated seats, and keyless entry/ignition, along with a nine-speaker Bose sound system including headrest speakers which help when the top is down.


The car also has signature LED front and rear lamps, with the lower grille having “a friendly look and an ‘eyelid’ that wraps over each front headlamp and runs toward the upper corner of the front grille.” The cluster graphics, round meter hood, and wrapped dome call are based on the Fiat 500X, and the horizontal painted bezel comes from the Fiat 500.  The three-gauge cluster display includes a tachometer in the middle.

The Fiat 124 Spider was designed at Centro Stile in Turin, Italy. It draws on the original for its hexagonal upper grille and grille pattern, “power domes” on the front hood, and sharp horizontal rear lamps. Inside, the company used soft-touch materials and claims to have paid particular attention to ergonomics.

Prima Edizione Lusso

There are two trim levels, Classica and Lusso, each of which can be purchased in red, white, black metallic, gray metallic, dark gray metallic, and bronze metallic. Lusso is also available in a three-coat “crystal white pearl.” The first 124 cars will be the Prima Edizione Lusso model, individually numbered, and available in an exclusive blue paint with leather seats in Saddle; this version includes wearables and a poster.

2017 fiat 124 launch edition

The Classica has a dual-tip exhaust, black roll bar finish, and body-color header, side sills and door handles, with 16-inch alloy wheels, black cloth seats, halogen headlamps, and LED tail lamps. The instrument panel is highlighted with light silver, and the standard stereo is the “Fiat Radio 3.0” including a USB port and six speakers. The seven-inch touch-screen system is optional — standard on Lusso.

The Lusso (“Luxury”) adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a silver-painted A-pillar header and roll-bar cover, and dual-tip chrome exhaust; heated premium leather seats in black or Saddle; and leatherette on the cluster brow and lower instrument panel is also wrapped in leatherette, with glossy black accents throughout.

Mopar accessories

At launch, Mopar announced:

  • Premium leather seats
  • Sport stripes in a black, carbon fiber look and Italian racing stripes
  • Accents for the trim of the window frame, mirror covers and roll bars
  • Strut braces of lightweight, high-strength aluminum to increase chassis rigidity
  • Aluminum sport pedals for both manual and automatic transmission
  • Slush mats
  • Splash guards

saddle seats


Standard and optional safety and security features on the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider include:

  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Blind-spot Monitoring
  • Constant-force retractors and seat belt load limiters, which regulate the force exerted on the occupants by the seat belts and then gradually release seat-belt webbing in a controlled manner
  • Daytime running lamps
  • Electronic brake-force distribution: Assists the driver to optimize stopping distances and control under all vehicle loading conditions by regulating braking pressure front-to-rear
  • Electronic roll mitigation and stability control
  • Express down windows

vintage fiat cutaway

  • Fog lamps
  • Front seat-belt pretensioners: During a collision, impact sensors initiate front seat-belt pretensioners to remove slack in the seat belt system, thereby reducing the forward movement of the occupant’s head and torso
  • Heated side-view mirrors: Prevents buildup of snow or ice on side-view mirrors to maintain visibility
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Rear Cross Path detection: In parking lots, this system warns drivers backing out of parking spaces of traffic moving toward their vehicle. It activates any time the vehicle is in Reverse.
  • Safety cage body structure: Protects occupants by managing and controlling energy in the event of an impact
  • Supplemental turn signals: Signal lamps built into the vehicle bodyside allow turn signals to be viewed from the front, sides and rear


CarTwo-seat Fiat 124 Spider convertible made by Mazda in Hiroshima
LayoutUnibody with front and rear subframes, using a high strength steel body
Power1.4 liter turbo engine, up to 22 psi boost, 160 hp @ 5500, 184 lb-ft @ 2500; engine made in Italy
Redline6,250 rpm
AutomaticAisin B400, standard on Lusso, optional on Classica. First gear, 3.53; Sixth gear, 0.58. Axle ratio: 3.584.
ManualClassica only. Triple cone on 1st-4th gears. First gear, 4.373:1. Sixth gear, 0.844:1. Final drive ratio, 3.454.
ElectricityDenso SC2 150-amp alternator; Q85 battery
Steering15.5 overall ratio; 30.8 foot turning diameter; 2.7 turns lock to lock
Front brakesVentilated 11-inch floating discs, 10.5 square inches swept area
Rear brakesSolid rear 11-inch floating discs, 9.8 square inches swepta rea
BrakesVacuum boosted power assistance; four wheel antilock brakes; mechanical lever parking brake
Size90.9 inch wheelbase. 159.6 inch length, 68.5 inch width, 48.5 inch height. 13.1° approach angle.
Weight2,436 manual, 2,476 automatic
SeatingHead room: 37.4. Legroom: 43.1. Shoulder room: 52.1. Seat travel: 8.3” driver, 6.7” passenger.
Reclining25° nominal, 12° forward, 22° rearward
Cargo 4.94 cubic feet (140 liters)
TiresClassic: 195/50R16 three-season Yokohama Advan Sport V105
Lusso: 205/45R17 three-season Bridgestone Potenza S001

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