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00  Month

Spider is a real contender

Created on 06/12/2018 @ 15:23

Test Drive by Graham Breeze

Note to self – two-seater roadsters should really be tested in the Summer and certainly not when Mid Wales is in the grip of a week of constant rain.

Especially when the car parked on the drive is the delightful Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Plus 1.4, and it’s just begging you to drop the roof and head off into the countryside.

Seven days of miserable conditions meant I didn’t really see this little Fiat at its best and never once got the chance to feel the wind whistle through the little bit of hair I’ve got left. Waking in the early hours to find the rain had stopped I was once even tempted to drive off into the night but eventually gave way to the need for more beauty sleep.

Many admirers were quick to compare this little Fiat to the all-conquering Mazda MX-5, and they were right to do so because the two companies collaborated to produce the 124 with Fiat providing the body and engine and Mazda the chassis. The similarities are obvious to all.

That doesn’t mean the 124 doesn’t have an identify all of its own. Quite the contrary. Long bonnet lines, a deep cabin and stunning 17 inch alloys (I do like a nice alloy) give this Fiat a profound uniqueness.

Metal trim finishes to the doors and controls are a particularly nice touch, as are the coloured roll bar covers and I’m told the fabric roof can be dropped in just a few seconds with one hand – though the opportunity never arose.

The Fiat design team wanted to ensure an air of Italian flair and succeeded in doing just that and for the more seasoned drivers amongst us the inclusion of rear-wheel drive is a touch of real class.

The turbo-charged 140bhp 1368cc engine is gutsy enough to produce figures of 0-60pmh in 7.5seconds and a top speed of 134mph yet is still capable of 44mpg. Rear-wheel powering mean this Fiat is a joy to drive, encouraging the driver to make twin exhaust pipes growl.

While space inside is at a premium there’s no shortage of technology or safety applications on-board. There’s a 7inch touchscreen control centre with navigation system and 3D maps, parking camera, rear parking sensors, electric door mirrors, DAB radio, a leather steering wheel with audio controls Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and keyless transmission.

Safety levels are high too with front and side airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive front lighting, fog lights, LED rear lights and electronic stability control.

Just like the MX-5 the 124 lacks storage space in the cabin and the boot will only accommodate the smallest of overnight bags. The folding roof has its own area though and has no impact on boot space.

To enjoy all the benefits you really need the right weather but there is no denying that the Fiat Spider is a genuine contender in the two-seater section.

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