The Fiat 124 Spider and Mazda MX-5 Miata are both cute, peppy roadsters. They share the same platform and lots of other features, and have similar sticker prices. The Miata has sportier handling while the Spider has slightly more trunk room.
The two-seat Spider was introduced for the 2017 model year and saw few changes for 2018, 2019 and 2020. It appears there’ll be no 2021 model due to lagging sales, with the Miata outselling the Spider by a significant margin.
The 2019 Spider is available in three trims: Classica, Lusso and Abarth. Starting prices range from $25,440 to $29,540, making it one of the lowest-priced sports cars. It has rear-wheel-drive.
The Fiat Spider is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The Abarth models have a sport exhaust system that generates four more horses for a rating of 164 hp. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. My tester has the optional six-speed automatic.
The Spider is less about powerful performance and more about agile handling and a comfortable ride. You’ll notice some turbo lag when accelerating from a stop, but there’s enough zip for most driving situations once you get going. Steering is sharp, brakes are powerful, there’s little body lean, and its small size makes the Spider easy to drive and park in busy city traffic. All in all, it’s fun to drive.
The manual convertible soft-top is a breeze to lower and raise and can easily be done with one hand from the driver’s seat (when you’re stopped, of course!). I had the top down as much as possible on some sunny fall days.
Fuel efficiency is good for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with a combined rating of 29. I got 28 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is stylish, attractive and surprisingly quiet for a convertible. Seats are nicely bolstered and comfortable. Since this is a tiny vehicle, there’s little space. And it’s low to the ground, so folks with knee or back problems may have trouble getting in and out. Once inside, average-size adults should be comfortable, but taller or larger folks will likely be cramped. With two passengers seated, there’s really no room for a handbag or other smaller items. It’s also easy to bump into the cupholders in the center. Thankfully they are removable.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, manually adjustable seats, seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, four-speaker audio system, and apps such as Pandora and Aha.
Available features include proximity keyless entry, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, Recaro sport seats with Alcantara upholstery, Brembo performance brakes, heated seats, navigation, nine-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio, automatic headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
Unfortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not available.
The Fiat Connect Infotainment system is basically the same as the Mazda Connect system. It has a round controller knob in the center console and a seven-inch touchscreen display as well as redundant physical controls. You can’t use the touchscreen while the car is in motion. Overall, the system is user-friendly and responds quickly to inputs.
The trunk has 4.9 cubic feet of space. That’s tiny, but it’s actually a bit larger than the 4.6 cubes in the Miata’s trunk. It’s enough to fit a few grocery bags or a couple of small overnight bags.
Cute, fun-to-drive convertible
Good fuel efficiency
Low sticker price for a sports car
Easy to put manual convertible top up and down
User-friendly infotainment system
No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay
My tester starts at $29,290. Abarth leather sport seats are $595. The Comfort and Convenience Group Package is $1,495 and adds blind-spot and cross-path detection, ParkSense rear park-assist system, heated exterior mirrors, auto-dimming exterior mirror, auto-dimming rear view mirror, universal garage door opener and security alarm. The Navigation and Sound Group Package is $1,295 and adds GPS navigation and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with subwoofer. The Visibility Group package is $995 and includes LED headlamps, adaptive front headlamps, automatic headlamp leveling system, headlamp washer and LED daytime running lamps. The Veleno Appearance Group Package is $495 and adds Abarth carpeted floor mats, bright dead pedal, red mirror cap, red fascia lower lip and red tow eye opening. Brembo four-wheel disc performance brakes are $1,495. The six-speed automatic transmission, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel paddle shifters are $1,350. The hand-painted Heritage racing stripe is $2,195. Record Monza exhaust with Abarth fender badges is $995. Destination charge is $1,495 bringing the grand total to $41,695.
What’s not to like about a cute, two-seat roadster convertible? The 2019 Fiat Spider is fun to drive and affordable. And you’ll be zipping around with the top down anytime there’s a ray of sunshine.