Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is set to unveil the all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider at the Los Angeles Auto Show Wednesday morning. Unlike the previous Fiats recently reintroduced to America, this one is truly for driving enthusiasts. If you’re squinting at your screen saying to yourself, “My, that 124 Spider looks an awful lot like the new Mazda Miata,” you needn’t get your vision checked. In fact, you’re dead on. Although this is the first Fiat 124 Spider to be debuted on American soil in nearly 50 years, it’s not really that new to us at all. That’s because, underneath, it’s the new MX-5. Thankfully, in transforming it from Miata to 124, Fiat designers based in Turin, Italy did more than replacing the Mazda logo with their brand’s badge.
First off, they reworked the front-end. Instead of the gaping mouth of the new Miata, the 124 Spider has a two piece grille. Changed, too, are the headlights that now resemble the rest of the Fiat family, including the 500e. In fact, for my money, it almost looks a bit Dodge Viper-y. But maybe I’m crazy. While I don’t love the headlights or the grille shape, they do definitely drag the car away from its Japanese roots and align it more closely to the rest of its twee Italian stablemates.
Any misgivings I have about the facia design is saved by the muscle-y hood Any misgivings I have about the facia design is saved by the muscle-y hood, which, sadly, isn’t very representative of what it shields from the elements. Instead of the Mazda 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G engine, Fiat has fitted its own 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower (5 more than the Miata) and 184 pound-feet of torque. That modicum of power is routed to the rear wheels by a 6-speed transmission in either manual or automatic form.