“Is it really possible to go faster than this on these roads?” my poor mother asks me, very clearly terrified by the way I’m driving. She doesn’t like it when I (or anyone for that matter) drives too fast, and I’ve already adjusted to “Mother Approved” speed, for her sake.
“Would it make you feel better if I said no?”
“Then no. It isn’t.”
She’s mistaken her ride-along in the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider for a leisurely jaunt through the countryside. We’re on my favorite driving loop in the Kettle Moraines, out to see how fast I can really take it. But we’ve been down this road (literally and figuratively) — about four years before, when I brought home my 1982 Fiat Sport Spider.
That was a proud day. Naturally, it had seemed like a fun idea taking my mom for a drive in my new pride and joy. I saved up, worked extra shifts and finally bought my first fun car. I learned quickly how to drive a manual, and I could already tell that this was what driving should be: twisty back roads, a light car, responsive steering. The Fiat wasn’t particularly quick, but speed didn’t matter. My mom also wasn’t terrified.
Years have passed. I graduated and moved to New York City, leaving my beloved Fiat back in the Midwest. If I’m lucky I get to drive it a couple times a year, but my dad has taken care of my Fiat, and driven it and used it like it was his own in exchange for garage space.
If you don’t mind driving with gusto you can effortlessly take the 124 Spider to the limit without getting in over your head.
Naturally, when Fiat announced last year it would be reviving the 124 Spider, I was ecstatic. Mazda and Fiat-Chrysler originally intended to revive the vaunted Alfa Romeo Spider on the MX-5 Miata platform, but Alfa shut down those plans, essentially saying an MX-5-based Alfa wouldn’t be Italian enough. So Fiat got the platform, and the 124 Spider nameplate returned.
The Miata has always been a spiritual successor to small, British and Italian roadsters. The new 124 Spider takes the basic chassis of the MX-5 and adds Fiat’s exterior styling, suspension tuning and a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine.