LOS ANGELES, California — The top of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso is down, the music is up, the sun is out, the road is clear, and the wind is playing with my hair. Cruising casually along the twisty Mulholland Highway in the mountains above Malibu, I resist burying the accelerator pedal as I pass a gaggle of motorcyclists resting under a grove of roadside oaks.
The low, wide body, sensual curvy design along with a satisfying power-to-weight ratio are what many look for in a sexy convertible for two and just what the Italian Miata delivers. The Lusso trim compares to the Grand Touring trim of the Mazda — meaning it’s more premium and not quite as hard edged as the sporty Abarth. It receives the same 160-hp version of the 1.4-liter turbo-four as the entry Classico trim (the Abarth has 164 hp), while torque is the same across the range at 184 lb-ft.
With less than 2,500 pounds of car to move and little turbo lag to suffer, it’s not a complete slouch and gets the small roadster to 60 mph in a decent 6.6 seconds. While the six-speed manual is certainly preferable, the Aisin six-speed automatic in our tester provided smooth up- and downshifts and was quick to launch.
Trim-specific touches include the Grigio Moda Meteor Grey exterior paint color, which shows off the structural A-pillar’s brightwork as well as the classic Fiat badges and shiny dual exhausts, and its silver aluminum 17-inch wheels.
Inside, little changes from the Miata save for the addition of some Italian flair by the Saddle leather-trimmed dash, doors, and seats. Our example was equipped with the Safety and Comfort Collection, which includes blind-spot and cross-path detection, a parking-assist backup camera, security alarm, and a handy universal garage door opener along with auto-dimming side- and rearview mirrors — handy for this low-slung convertible.
Autocrossers and serious canyon cavers will be better off with the slightly more powerful and agile 124 Spider Abarth, but those that prefer to slip on a pair of tony driving gloves and wrap-around shades as they set off for a cruise down the nearest scenic road will be well-served by the more touring-oriented Lusso.
2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Specifications
|PRICE||$28,490/$31,335 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||1.4L turbocharged SOHC 16-valve I-4/160 hp @ 5,500 rpm,
184 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible|
|EPA MILEAGE||25/36 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||159.6 x 68.5 x 48.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.6 sec|
|TOP SPEED||134 mph|