This review first appeared in the March 2018 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg
It’s a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso (photo by CHARLES GLOVER), thank you very much, and I won’t pretend to tell you that I did not relish the attention the test vehicle was getting. Of course, I eventually realized that 100 percent of the star power was in the car, not me. But hey, you take what you can get at my age.
Anyway, the two-seat, rear-drive Spider is the definition of cute and sporty. It’s an adult’s plaything starting at $27,495. Mine was liberally dressed up with extras – including heated exterior mirrors, a primo navigation system and headlamp washers – that brought the bottom line to $33,725. As adult toys go, that’s still not too bad.
For older adults, be forewarned that this Spider rides VERY low to the ground. I pretty much had to fall down into it. There was just enough room to swallow up my 6-4 frame and allow me to drive the car… just enough.
Getting out of the vehicle was my biggest challenge. I had to employ the “swing two feet to the pavement, jump out of the car strategy” to get it done.
Not that I looked forward to getting out of the Spider. For such a small vehicle, it was loaded with a surprising number of comfort/convenience perks. The soft top was a hook/manual configuration, but it fell back into place and out of harm’s way with very little effort.
The best part was the ride. No surprise there.
The Spider has a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder, multi-air turbo power plant under the hood dishing up 184 horsepower. Given the light weight of the vehicle, that number of horses propels the Spider forward in a serious hurry. It’s a noisy, aggressive rush. A classic Euro sports car thrill. I couldn’t get enough of it.
For those who get nervous in dicey freeway traffic, the Spider might take some getting used to. You are riding very low to the ground amid 18-wheel trucks and assorted monster-size sport-utility vehicles, and some might feel intimidated.
And with the soft roof, exterior noise from those loud, neighboring vehicles does register in the cockpit.
I was not intimidated, simply because the Spider’s high-performance capabilities made it so easy to get out of harm’s way in a split second. A quick blip on the accelerator, and I found myself gliding along in clean, open air in a heartbeat. Plus there was the added bonus of the tester’s top-flight agility. It could carve out spaces between cars easily, with rock-solid stability and perfect balance. Very nice.
And the four-wheel anti-lock brakes functioned quite well to boot.
All in all, this Fiat is an ideal ride for those who enjoy the old-school pleasures of driving. With two seats and enough trunk space for perhaps one suitcase, obviously, it’s not every motorist’s cup of tea.
But if fun is your primary goal, this Spider is worth collecting.