The market in Ireland for 2 seat roadsters is of course very limited nevertheless there are a few for sale here for those that wish to indulge their passion for wind in the hair motoring.
At the top of the food chain is the like of he superlative Porsche 718 Boxster but today we are testing something a little more affordable, the all new Fiat 124 Spider.
The 124 Spider is a retro looking 2 seat rear wheel drive roadster that harks back to the 1966 Fiat of the same name.
If it looks somewhat similar to the Mazda MX-5 then that is because it actually shares the same platform, suspension and gearbox as the MX-5 though it is powered by Fiat’s own 1.4 petrol turbo.
I was blessed with those few days of sunshine this April so I could truly experience this roadster at its best.
Has it any street cred?
While based heavily on the MX-5 in a deal Fiat did with Mazda and its actually built in the Mazda plant in Hiroshima Japan, it nevertheless shares none of its body panels with the Mazda.
The Fiat 124 Spider is more retro looking than the Mazda with a big long angular bonnet and a short tail section. In my books its a real classic and definitely has plenty of street cred!
What’s it like inside?
Pretty small! The interior is identical to that of the MX-5 save for a Fiat badge on the steering wheel.
It's fairly compact in here with little or no storage space save for a lockable cubby between the two front seats.
That said its a nice place to be with leather clad sports seats, and soft touch plastics throughout.
Equipment levels are typically generous too with 17inch alloys, Keyless Go, Heated seats, cruise control, auto climate control, Sat Nav, Parking camera, 7 inch touchscreen, Bose Hi Fi, and the now standard host of safety features, electric windows and so on.
The hood is dropped manually, you unlock it from inside and kind of throw it back locking it in place. Putting it back up is simply the reverse procedure, but it does involve a bit of back twisting if you are to do it from the drivers seat.
The 145 litre boot is small but adequate for a few overnight soft bags.
What is under the bonnet?
The biggest differentiator between the Fiat and the Mazda is that the Fiat 124 Spider uses Fiat’s Multi Air 1.4 petrol turbo which produces some 140 bhp. Top speed is claimed at 215km/h while the benchmark 0 to 100km dash takes a nifty 7.5 seconds.
That tube does endow the Fiat with great mid range torque, requiring less gear shifting than in the normally aspirated Mazda. It feels lively and boasts a nice sporty tone too.
Will I enjoy driving it?
This is the key attribute to any roadster and in this the little Fiat delivers. With the top down there is not too much wind buffeting though I felt the drivers seat could be positioned bit lower as I felt too high in the seat.
Nevertheless it handles nicely and that rear wheel drive allows you to power it through the corners with a more sports orientated feel.
Top up and its cosy enough inside. There is some wind noise at motorway speeds and the aural note of that engine is always there but that is part of the back to basics feel of many roadsters.
Prices start at €31,495 while the Lusso version tested costs from €36,695. I liked the new Fiat124 Spider. For many those retro looks will be the winning factor over the more contemporarily style MX-5 and that Fiat petrol turbo is lovely.