2017 Fiat 124 Spider-02

Fiat’s reskinned Mazda MX-5 has been officially revealed. The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider’s name is a homage to the Pininfarina-designed 124 Sport Spider from the 1960s, and the car is described as one with the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety combined with iconic Italian design.

The platform and interior is pure ND Mazda MX-5, but there are sufficient changes to the exterior styling that sets the Fiat apart. Design wise, is this Italian job successful? We’re divided in the office – some prefer the sharper looks of the Japanese roadster, while others like the Fiat for its arguably classier, more rounded front and rear ends, power domes included. What say you?

While both Fiat and Mazda share the same wheelbase and front/rear tracks, the Spider is 14 cm longer than the MX-5 as it has longer overhangs. The Fiat is also 43 kg heavier than the Mazda (auto vs auto), and that leads us to what’s under the hood.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider-10

In North America, where the new roadster continues the expansion of the Fiat brand, the 2017 124 Spider is available with the 1.4 litre MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine with 160 hp at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 2,500 rpm.

The fourth-generation ND MX-5 tops out at 158 hp at 6,000 rpm and 200 Nm at 4,600 rpm, courtesy of a naturally aspirated 2.0 litre engine that spins to 6,800 rpm (6,250 for the turbo mill). Those who want an “MX-5 Turbo” might have found their answer in the 124 Spider.

Also found in the 500 Abarth, this is the MultiAir Turbo’s first application in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and it’s paired to six-speed transmissions, manual and automatic. No performance figures yet.

Fiat says that noise vibration and harshness enhancements, including an acoustic front windshield and insulation treatments, help to deliver a refined, quiet ride. Like the Miata, a Bose sound system with nine speakers, including dual headrest speakers, is available. Two trim levels are offered – Classica and the more upmarket, automatic-only Lusso.

The first 124 vehicles will be offered as a limited edition Prima Edizione Lusso. Each will be individually numbered with a commemorative badge and available in exclusive Azzurro Italia (that’s blue) exterior paint with premium leather seats in Saddle Brown. Prima Edizione owners will also receive limited edition items including wearables and a poster. Reaching North American showrooms next summer.

So, do you prefer the Miata or the Fiata?