Fiat’s Miata-based 2017 124 Spider blends Italian bravado with Japanese genes

Fiat has finally introduced the Mazda Miata-based 2017 124 Spider at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

As expected, the 21st-century 124 Spider stands out from the Miata with a retro-inspired design that pays homage to the original 124 Spider that was introduced in 1966. Up front, it gets oval headlight with round LED daytime running lights, a thin hexagonal grille, and a pair of heritage-laced power domes on the hood. Out back, Fiat has fitted its version of Japan’s favorite roadster with rectangular tail lamps and a small spoiler built into the trunk lid.

All told, the 2017 124 Spider shares a few key styling cues with its predecessor but its design isn’t full-on retro like the Fiat 500. The story is different inside, where the topless Fiat features a carbon copy of the Miata’s back-to-basics cockpit with a driver-oriented center console, a three-spoke steering wheel, and a tablet-like seven-inch screen that runs the infotainment system.

On our shores, the Miata is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s borrowed from the Mazda3 and tuned to deliver 155 horsepower. Fiat isn’t allowed to use the Mazda mill, so the 2,436-pound Spider is equipped with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that sends 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic gearbox is available at an extra cost. Performance specifications haven’t been announced yet.

Although Mazda is still on the fence about turbocharging the Miata, Fiat has confirmed it will launch an Abarth-branded version of the roadster designed with an unrestrained focus on performance. Car & Driver reports it will be fitted with an evolution of the 240-horsepower, 1.7-liter turbo four currently mounted transversally behind the Alfa 4C‘s passenger compartment, though other sources — notably British magazine Autocar — believe it will simply use a more powerful version of the regular model’s 1.4-liter mill.

Built by Mazda in Japan, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is scheduled to arrive in showrooms next summer. It will be offered in two trim levels called Classica and Lusso, respectively, and the first 124 units shipped to the U.S. will be part of a special edition dubbed Prima Edizione Lusso that will gain azzurro italia blue paint, beige upholstery, and a commemorative plaque on the dash.

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