Meet the “Fiata”, or Fiat 124 Spider as they call it

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We’ve all know that Fiat was working on a new Spider for a while now, and that it would be based on the new ND chassis Mazda Miata. Well now it’s for real, and we’re calling it the “Fiata!”

Now, officially, the new Fiat roadster is called the Fiat 124 Spider. It is an homage to the classic Fiat 124 Spider, which was built from the mid 1960s until the mid 1980s. I’d say its styling does the old design justice…

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As for the new Fiata, you can think of it as an ND Mazda Miata with a 500 Abarth engine swap done to it. Under the hood it shares the same growly 1.4L turbocharged four cylinder engine as the Abarth. It makes the same 160hp and 184 ft/lbs of torque. Not a huge horsepower leap over the figures of the Miata’s 2.0L SkyActive engine, but it will have a wider powerband thanks to all that turbo torque.

Everything else is similar, or even exactly the same as in the Miata. There are automatic and manual transmission options, as well as sporty and more luxury-focused models. The Fiat also weighs about 100 lbs more than the ND Miata, and will likely be positioned slightly up-market.

So what should we think of the Fiata?

Having just recently driven an ND Miata (review coming soon), I can attest that the platform of this car is fantastic.

I like the new 124 Spider’s styling a lot, but I was hoping for something a little more drop-dead-gorgeous. I get that they were going for the retro look, though, so maybe it’ll “pop” more for me when I see one in person.

I think the real deciding factor that will draw many to the Fiata over the Miata will be the power potential from that turbocharged Abarth engine.

The Miata’s 2.0L SkyActive engine is quite solid, and far more tune-able than previous Miata engines, but even so nothing compares to having a turbo when it comes to big power gains.

Only a measly 5 hp separates the Miata and the 124 Spider in stock form, and the Miata even has a better power-to-weight ratio. That will quickly change when modifications are applied. The 1.4L Turbo in the Fiat has proven able to hit the 200whp mark (~240hp from the engine) pretty easily. The Miata, on the other hand will max out around 160-170whp (190-200hp from the engine) with just basic mods.

With the mods done, a 240hp Fiata will have a power-to-weight ratio of 10lbs/hp… or around the same as a Porsche 911 Carrera. That should allow for some pretty serious performance.

Owners  of ND Miatas also widely report being able to hit the 40 MPG mark fairly often with relaxed driving. I have no doubt that the Fiata will be able to do the same or better with its smaller engine, if you can manage to stay out of boost.

So the Fiat may be the better choice for those wanting the most horsepower. That said, thinking buyers should definitely consider the likely differences in long-term reliability and running costs between the Mazda Miata and the Fiat 124 Spider. In short, Mazda has a great reputation for build quality. Fiat, well, not so much…

So there is my take on the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. I think, overall, it looks like a great package, and I love the idea of having a modded one with around 240hp. I think it’s a great alternative to the ND Miata for those wanting a little boost in their lives!

-Nick Walker

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