Motors

Meet the Mazda MX-5's Italian brother

Fiat has teamed up with Mazda to create a new roadster to revive its 124 Spider nameplate, writes William Scholes

Fiat 124 Spider

A BLEND of Italian style and Japanese engineering ought to be an unbeatable combination, which is reason alone to be optimistic about this car, the Fiat 124 Spider.

Essentially a Mazda MX-5 dressed by an Italian fashion house - I'll leave it up to you to decide if the styling is a success - the 124 Spider revives a name from Fiat's past.

The styling is retro compared to the MX-5's futuristic origami creases, preferring to pay homage to the 1960s' original with round headlamps, bonnet power bulges and a hexagonal grille.

The only other substantial difference with the Mazda is under the bonnet, where the Fiat gets a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine; the Japanese company has traditionally shunned fitting a turbo to the MX-5, arguing that the sharper throttle response of a naturally-aspirated unit is more appropriate for a small sports car.

When it goes on sale in Northern Ireland in around a year's time, the Fiat's turbo engine will dish out 138bhp, which sits between the 129bhp and 158bhp Mazda offers.

However, its 177lb/ft of torque is considerably beefier than the 111lb/ft and 148lb/ft, which ought to make the Fiat feel more accelerative.

More powerful Abarth-badged 124 Spiders would seem to be a dead cert, too.

Save for the badge on the steering wheel, the interior looks to be identical to the Mazda's.

The Fiat will be built in the same Hiroshima factory as the Mazda and though it is hard to imagine there being too much of a price difference, the 124 Spider is expected to cost a little more than the MX-5.

The idea of a small Italian roadster is an evocative one, and with the MX-5 already one of Drive's favourite cars, the 124 Spider could prove to be a great success for Fiat.

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