It was announced a couple years back that Fiat and Mazda would collaborate on their next roadster, sharing the next Mazda MX-5 Miata platform.
Fiat unveiled their version at the LA Auto Show this week, the new 124 Spider.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider brings back to life an iconic nameplate with a suitably retro and decidedly Italian design.
In the big reveal at the LA Auto Show, a good deal of reverence to paying homage was made as they sold up its Italian flair against imagery of the original.
And there’s no question it looks Italian. The facial features, open mouth grille and emphasized fender lines make the point.
And the angled rear taillights all harken back to the original Fiat 124 Spider of the 1960’s well.
Under the hood is Italy too, in North America we get the same 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the Fiat 500 Abarth.
It’s good for 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque for the rear wheels and can be had with either six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
The roadster of course is front-engine, rear-wheel-drive with a double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link in the rear.
I expect it will handle and drive quite remarkably as did the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata we recently tested.
And that brings us to the rub. While automakers doing joint ventures like this is nothing new, they usually take steps to separate the two products well, especially when we are talking about iconic names like the 124 Spider and MX-5 Miata.
But here, the interior, wasn’t changed at all but for a couple pieces of trim and upholstery patterns. The only notable difference inside is the Fiat badge on the steering wheel. And the problem with this is the fact that the MX-5’s interior just isn’t that good.
Could they not have at changed it up even a little? A different instrument panel, different console, and for God sake Fiat Chrysler’s much better Uconnect infotainment system and controls? It’s the least they could have done so you don’t feel like a rube who got bamboozled into buying what is clearly a Miata from behind the wheel.
The bright side here is that the new Fiata lets you have an iconic Fiat roadster with Japanese electronics, Japanese engineering, and Japanese build quality. The all-new Fiat 124 Spider arrives in North America next summer 2016.