- One engine only
- 1.4-litre petrol
- Turbocharged character
There’s only one choice of engine in the standard car, unlike the Mazda MX-5, which offers 1.5- and 2.0-litre units.
Buy a Fiat 124 Spider and it’ll be powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, so that’s an easy decision.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between the Italian car and the Mazda it’s based on – while the MX-5’s powerplants thrive on revs to deliver their power, the Fiat delivers its performance with readily available turbocharged ease.
That’s because the motor is boosted by a turbo, delivering 140hp and 240Nm of torque, the latter from a relatively low 2,500rpm.
The power doesn’t run out until 6,500rpm either, so there’s plenty of reason to run the Fiat up to its limiter, accompanied by a raspy, metallic exhaust note.
Snick through the fabulous six-speed manual gearbox quick enough and 0-62mph will tumble in 7.5 seconds, which is comparable to the 2.0-litre MX-5, while top speed stretches to 134mph.
With a smaller engine and turbo you also get respectable economy figures, with the Fiat’s fuel consumption and CO2 figures coming in between the Mazda’s two powerplants.
The more performance-oriented Abarth 124 is powered by the same 1.4-litre engine but comes with more power. With 170hp and 250Nm, the dash from 0-62mph drops to 6.8 seconds and pushes on to a higher top speed of 143mph. Unlike the Fiat, the Abarth is also the only one available with an automatic gearbox.
- Softer ride than MX-5
- Better for relaxed jaunts
- Still a great steer
The 124’s suspension has been retuned and feels a bit more compliant here than in the MX-5.
It’s far from being overly soft though, capable of slicing through a series of bends with the same confidence as the Japanese car.
We reckon it’s marginally less precise and therefore the second choice of the two for attacking your favourite B-road. Dial your right foot back a bit and there’s still a lot of fun to be had, it’s just better-suited to a slightly more relaxed approach.
As with the Mazda you can expect wonderfully light but accurate steering, which gives you loads of information about the grip levels of the front tyres.