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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At launch, Mopar announced:
Standard and optional safety and security features on the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider include:
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