2019 FIAT 124 Spider

Performance


#5 out of 8 in Sports Cars

$25,190 MSRP
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2019 FIAT 124 Spider Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.6

The 2019 124 Spider’s energetic turbocharged engine and manual transmission make for a fun driving experience. Abarth models offer a slight performance boost. This nimble car offers a refined driving experience, blending agile handling and good ride comfort with enough power to easily propel you around open roads, once you get it going.

  • "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)
  • "Let's be honest. What you really want is the Abarth, at a base price of $28,195, rasp and all. As I see it, the 124 Spider is slightly better than the Miata, and the Abarth is definitely better than the Miata. It's the little things that make something that was already pretty damn good into something that's great. It's that little extra heft in the slightly beefier wheel. It's that slightly deeper engine noise. It's that more widely available torque. It's the way it tries to flatten itself out. It's the way it's ever-so-slightly better proportioned. In Abarth guise, this is the Miata you always wanted. It's the Miata the world always wanted. And for the weirdos out there, there's still, always, the Miata. But give me this instead." -- Jalopnik (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The standard engine in the 124 Spider is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder producing 160 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard while a six-speed automatic is available. The Spider Abarth features a sport exhaust system that raises output to 164 horsepower.

This engine is slow to accelerate from a dead stop, but it’s lively enough once it gets going. Most driving enthusiasts will prefer the manual transmission to the automatic, which is overly eager to shift to a higher gear for better fuel efficiency. Speaking of fuel economy, the 124’s estimates are some of the best in the class: 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

  • "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
  • "Compared with the … 2.0-liter in the Miata, the turbocharged engine comes across as lazier and less eager to be abused. Some of that is certainly due to the easy flow of low-end torque, but the Fiat never feels any stronger than the naturally aspirated Miata. Turbo lag is present, but it's easy to mitigate by keeping the revs above 2000 rpm. However, should you roll through a stop in second gear and lug the engine down to idle, you'll find there's a delay before the engine wakes up." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "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 rear-wheel-drive 124 Spider features precise steering, agile handling, powerful brakes, and a soft ride. Body lean around corners is controlled, and this Fiat glides over bumps in the road without jostling its occupants. Abarth models further enhance athleticism with their performance-tuned suspension and available Brembo performance brakes.

  • "Steering, handling and braking performance are definite strengths for this lightweight roadster." -- Edmunds
  • "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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