Bellisima: The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso
The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso.
I've told the story before...how my Uncle Ron's refusal to own anything but a convertible ('53 Corvette, '55 Thunderbird, '59 Thunderbird, '63 Thunderbird Sports Roadster, '69 Cougar XR-7) made me a lifelong sucker for an open car. 

Make it a beautiful convertible and give me an El Dorado County, California backroad on a late afternoon in early spring, and I'm a goner.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso
2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso.
That pretty much sums up where I am on the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso.  Yes, it's mostly a Mazda MX-5 Miata (no bad thing) with a Fiat turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder where the Mazda's 2.0 naturally-aspirated four usually lives (a potentially worrisome thing for those of us raised during the "Fix It Again, Tony" years of Fiat's first run on these shores).

But it's five inches longer than the Mazda, giving it better proportions, and the styling is an echo of the 1970s 128 Spider and more pleasing to some eyes (including mine) than the current angry look of the Miata.

And its extra weight (193 pounds, from the added length, thicker rear glass, added sound deadening in the firewall and under the carpet plus an acoustic windshield) plus a touring suspension makes the Spider feel smoother and more refined than its Japanese cousin.

Interior view of 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso
2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso interior.
Ours was the top-of-the-line Lusso.  Base price $27,495.  Leather-trimmed seats, a rear-view camera, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, electronic stability control, an enhanced accident response system, speed control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, a four-speaker AM/FM Bluetooth radio with seven-inch display and Pandora, aha and Stitcher apps, voice control, automatic climate control, heated seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a soft-touch upper instrument panel, piano black interior accents, a premium silver rollbar cover, a six-way driver and four-way passenger seat (both manually adjusted), convertible roof with acoustic headliner, 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic bi-function projector headlamps, front fog lamps, power mirrors, LED taillamps, body-color side sills and skirts, dual exhausts with bright tips and a tire service kit (there is no spare) are all standard equipment.

And, of course, our tester came with extra-cost options:

  • Comfort and Convenience Group (blind spot and crosspath detection, rear parking assist, heated exterior mirrors, auto-dimming exterior mirror, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, security alarm): $1,495.
  • Navigation and Sound Group (upgraded nine-speaker Bose audio system with subwoofer, Sirius XM Satellite radio and GPS navigation): $1,395.
  • Visibility Group (Adaptive LED headlamps, automatic headlamp leveling system, headlamp washer and LED daytime running lamps): $995.
  • Six-speed automatic transmission with a leather-wrapped shift knob: $1,350.
With $995 destination charge, the bottom line came to $33,275.  More than reasonable.  If you could get it with the Mazda engine, I'd be in.  The Fiat turbo only adds 5 horsepower, which is offset by the extra weight.  But a few more early spring late afternoons on backroads here in Northern California, and they'd probably have me, Fiat turbo and all.