The weather did not play ball with me this time, as my week with the Fiat 124 Spider contained all of the four seasons in the seven days!
Wrong location no doubt, but there was simply nothing I could do on the weather front; I admit somewhere adorned with palm trees would have been a better idea.
Many may be surprised to learn that there is a giant helping of the Mazda MX-5 in the little Fiat roadster, but despite this it manages to have a character of its own. For me its styling is a little more Alfa than Fiat, at least it stays loyal to the Italian way of thinking in this respect.
Despite being powered by a modest, yet zesty 1.4 litre MultiAir petrol engine it is surprising the amount of fun it delivers. Okay when you look at the performance figures on paper, rest to 62mph (100kph) in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 134mph (215km/h) they are far from earth shattering. But on a day when the sun manages to peak through the clouds and with the roof down do you really want to be hurtling along at high speed? The answer is no.
My test example was in Lusso Plus trim, finished to quite a high standard with such goodies as air conditioning, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless start and the much appreciated heated seats.
The work of the FIAT Style Centre, the front-end encapsulates the essence of its classic predecessor in a modern and bold package, broad and muscular but also elegant and perfectly proportioned.
The profile view is that of a classic roadster, with its long wheelbase, a cockpit hunkered low near the driven rear axle and a long bonnet, all tied elegantly together by a horizontal line that emerges from the front wing, kicking up over the rear haunch and flowing toward the tail lamp, aping the distinctive bodywork of the original 124 Spider.
The nose of the new model also takes its inspiration from the 1966 original with the style and position of the LED headlamps and the hexagonal upper grille all drawing heavily from the details of the classic roadster while the bonnet emulates the twin power domes of the second- generation model. An integrated rear spoiler enhances the aerodynamic performance, while twin exhaust outlets are a reminder of its sporting pedigree.
Alas it was a case of a week of motoring with the hood up. The multi-layer canvas hood is a manual unit that can be operated in seconds using minimal force and without you having to leave your seat. Handling is surefooted, the 124 Spider relying on a double-wishbone layout in front and a multilink set up in the rear, specifically tuned for greater stability while braking and turning, while the dual-pinion electric power steering system has been specifically
tuned to give the 124 Spider a responsive, Italian feel.
The end result is a fun drive, just what you would expect for a car of this type coming from an Italian stable.
Safety is well catered for with an array of aids. In order to provide the customer with choice, three trim levels, my test car was the top end version. A very complete package and I noted just one option- paint. In Fiat terms Passione Red, certainly they got the colour right this time.
Now to the all important price, the paint option comes in at £350 (€397) leaving the total at £25,400 (€ 28,795).N.I.
In the ROI, the Spider starts at €32,395, with the Lusso Plus starts at €36,695 (both plus delivery charges.)