Don’t dismiss the 124 Spider simply because other Fiats have not done well in our tests. Underneath the car’s bodywork - inspired by the Pininfarina-designed 124 Spider from the 1960s and ‘70s - is essentially a Mazda MX-5 Miata. As such it retains the Miata’s nimble, fun-to-drive essence, while bringing a turbocharged engine and decent seats. It also retains the Miata’s tight accommodations and elevated noise levels, making it more of a weekend toy than a daily commuter.
All 124 Spiders come with Fiat/Chrysler’s widely used 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 160 horsepower, as opposed to the Miata’s 155-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder. But like the Mazda, you have a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
The 124’s turbo engine is fairly hearty and revs willingly, delivering noticeably good punch at mid-range revs. That engine sound is uninspiring, however, getting rattly the more you wind it out. A baby Ferrari with a stirring exhaust, this is not.