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2020 FIAT 124 Spider Performance

#7 out of 8 in Sports Cars

U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 FIAT 124 Spider Performance Review


Performance: 7.8

The 2020 Fiat 124 Spider is a hoot to drive, and it's great on gas. Its turbocharged engine is rewarding when it hits boost, and its standard manual transmission is a joy to operate. The Spider strikes a nice balance by delivering both sharp handling and a comfortable ride.

  • "Where the Toyota 86 and the MX-5 Miata are autocross and track-day darlings, the softer-handling Fiat is the small roadster to buy if you prioritize sunny-day cruises over track events. The stiffer-sprung Abarth model is more of an eager little scamp, and every 124 benefits from quick, feedback-rich steering and good body control when the road deviates from the straight and narrow. The 124 Spider rides decently for a small, flyweight roadster." -- Car and Driver
  • "Like the Miata, the 124's diminutive figure is both part of its appeal and the cause of many of its shortcomings. Similarly, the small, turbocharged engine is likewise a distinctive trait with its own appeals and pitfalls: It's punchy and eager high in the rev range, but it's distinctly underpowered at low to medium rpm." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "The 124 Spider is fundamentally a mature, grown-up MX-5 that rides more smoothly and has easily accessible but moderate levels of power." -- Autoblog (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The 124 Spider has a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The Abarth model squeezes more out of the same engine, producing 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque at a lower rpm.

This engine exhibits a bit of turbo lag, but once it gets going, the four-cylinder shuttles the 124 Spider around confidently and supplies strong passing power. The standard six-speed manual transmission offers the best control over the Spider’s engine power. The available six-speed automatic tends to upshift too quickly, pushing the engine out of its power band.

The 124 Spider gets a class-leading 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway when paired with the manual transmission. With the automatic, it gets 25/36 mpg city/highway.

  • "It can be fun trying to keep the 124's engine on boil by constantly working the buttery six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic is optional), but the nonlinear power delivery makes the task tricky. At least when kept in the middle of the range, the Fiat engine amuses with solid punch and a brassy exhaust note. At low engine speeds, the 1.4-liter has little to give, and its gusto wears off well before the tach needle hits redline." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 124 is slow off the line, but the car starts smoothly and consistently. The automatic transmission is overly eager to upshift, and it frequently leaves you without power. This leads to lots of hunting around for the right gear during spirited driving and while maneuvering through traffic." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "If you're used to the linear windup of a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter (like, for example, the one on the MX-5), the 1.4-liter turbo is the single biggest difference you'll notice from behind the very familiar steering wheel. It'll take a minute to adjust; with peak torque available from 2,500 rpm, you don't have to thrash it to get it moving. But it really starts to scoot at around 3,200 rpm, and after that, it's not long until you hit redline and run out of steam." -- Autoweek (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Fiat 124 Spider has composed driving dynamics. It feels agile and lightweight around turns, and the car exhibits minimal body roll. The steering is quick and responsive as well. Better still, the 124 Spider rides comfortably over uneven road surfaces, which is not typical for this segment.

  • "Steering, handling and braking performance are definite strengths for this lightweight roadster." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "The differences in handling, however, are more pronounced. The Fiata rides noticeably softer than the Miata. Both cars exhibit some roll when chucked into a corner, but the Fiat leans over just a touch more. The Miata feels more active, agile and playful, where the 124 Spider feels more planted, stable and grown up. Both offer very direct and rewarding steering and very good seat-of-the-pants feel." -- CNET (2017)
  • "The Fiat in each of its versions shares with the other car a reassuring balance of ride and handling, with a significant degree of compliance going into a tight corner. Then it takes a set and guides you firmly around the corner with an easy willingness to rotate in a controllable way." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)
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2020 FIAT 124 Spider

MSRP: $25,390 - $29,390

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