WHEELS . . .
FIAT 124 SPIDER CONVERTIBLE
Any discussion of the two-seat Fiat 124 Spider convertible—a revival of the 124 nameplate from the 1960s and 70s—turns inevitably to comparing and contrasting it with the Mazda MX-5 Miata on which it's based. The 124 sets itself apart with styling cues plucked from the original version, making for a substantially different exterior appearance than the Miata. From behind the wheel, the Fiat is a more relaxed take on the Mazda, with a welcome reduction in interior noise due to extra sound-deadening measures, higher-quality materials inside, a more powerful turbo engine, and slightly more trunk space. However, the engine lacks responsiveness, and despite the extra power, is actually slower than the Miata. And make sure you fit, because, like the Miata, the 124's cabin is quite compact. Overall, it's a very good small roadster that lives in the shadow of the even better Miata.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Classica: $26,885
- Lusso: $29,640
- Abarth: $30,885
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Seeing as it's lightweight and small—and powered by a tiny engine—it's no surprise that the Fiat earns sparkling fuel-economy estimates on the EPA's test cycle. In our real-world highway fuel-economy test, the 124 Spider with the manual transmission bested its highway EPA rating of 35 mpg with a 39-mpg result.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Base-model 124 Spiders have manual climate controls, while Lusso and Abarth models gain automatic climate control and heated seats, but don't expect many other luxuries. Cabin space is tight, especially for drivers and passengers measuring more than six feet tall. The top, when raised, arcs tightly over the cabin, and the small rear window contributes to the interior's confining nature. At least when the soft top is folded behind the seats, as it should be as often as possible—remember, this is a roadster!—the sky's the limit on headroom.
If you were holding out hope that the 124 Spider might swallow cargo better than it gulps two people, dash that optimism here and now. The Spider has a small trunk and barely any cabin storage for phones, knickknacks, and the like. We fit just one carry-on suitcase inside the Fiat's trunk.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All 124 Spiders ship with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Users can also operate the touchscreen via a center-console knob and its shares the infotainment software with the Miata. The setup is straightforward and benefits from shortcut buttons for audio, navigation, and home menus placed around the control knob. Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio input, and redundant steering-wheel audio and phone controls are standard, but the rest of the technology is rudimentary. Smartphone connectivity platforms such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't offered.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested a 124 Spider, and driver-assistance features are extremely limited. Key safety features include:
- Available blind-spot monitoring
- Available rear cross-traffic alert
- Available rear parking sensors
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Perhaps in an effort to dispel buyers' preconceived notions about the Fiat brand's checkered past when it comes to reliability, the 124 Spider comes with a better limited warranty and longer-term roadside assistance than the Miata.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
LOCAL TRAIN TRIPPING . . .
Please enjoy this fun story on travel from Santa Barbara to San Francisco by train. Delightful adventure for train lovers to a fabulous tourist destinaation via Amtrak and CarTrans all the way to San Francisco.
PIRELLI REINFORCES NORTH AMERICA MANAGEMENT TEAM
Marco Crola nominated region Chairman and Pietro Berardi CEO
In light of the ever more challenging competitive context, Pirelli has decided to strengthen its management structure in North America. On March 1, 2020, Pietro Berardi will join the group in the position of CEO for the region.
With his consolidated North American experience in the automotive industry and aftermarket, having held senior roles in the Alliance (Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi) and FCA Group (Magneti Marelli), Mr. Berardi will have the task of strengthening the business's command of the market and its development, executing the strategies and commercial policies best suited to consolidating Pirelli's leadership in the Premium and Prestige segments. In addition, he will continue the process of integrating the Original Equipment and Replacement channels, as well enhancing relationships with strategic clients.
Marco Crola will take the role of Chairman North America to ensure the continuity of actions already under way.
Santa Barbara Air Bus
Round Trip to LAX Daily